For just under three years, Andreas Christopheros has lived with regret that he ever decided to open his door.
The resident of Truro, a coastal town in southwestern England, was home in December 2014 when he heard a knock, believing it was a courier bringing Christmas presents.
He opened the door to a stranger, who said, “this is for you, mate” while throwing sulphuric acid in his face.
Coverage of acid attacks on Globalnews.ca:
The attack left him blind in one eye, with burns that would force 90 per cent of his face to be reconstructed.
“My T-shirt disintegrated from top to bottom, it just rolled away into nothing,” he said.
“Not having eyelids has probably been the most torturous thing that I’ve been through.”
The attack on Christopheros was a case of mistaken identity, he said. The assailant came to his home with the intent of attacking someone who he thought had sexually assaulted a family member, but went to the wrong place.
The attacker was sentenced to life in prison — a sentence that, on appeal, was reduced to 16 years, with a chance of parole after eight.
Christopheros is one of a growing number of victims of acid attacks, which have been happening with such frequency in the U.K. that they’re being compared to the way people used to use knives.
There were over 500 acid attacks in London alone last year, up from 300 in 2014, city police said.
READ MORE: Food delivery drivers refuse to work in London after rise in acid attacks
“We see a shift perhaps in the style in using acid as opposed to knives, which has been popular thus far,” Simon Harding, a criminologist at Middlesex University London, told Global News.
Acid attacks used to be associated more closely with domestic abuse cases, but most that take place in England now involve robberies. And most of the victims are men.
“It appears that acid throwing has been picked up by urban street gangs as part of their repertoire,” Harding said.
There are calls now for tougher punishments for acid attacks.
Stephen Timms, the MP for England’s East Ham riding, has said that carrying acid should be an offence “in exactly the same way that carrying a knife today is an offence.”
But experts aren’t so certain. Acid can be found in common household cleaners, some of which are 96 per cent corrosive.
READ MORE: Random acid attack in London leaves woman, cousin with severe burns
“You’re always going to have something under the kitchen sink, and unless we’re going to end up with everybody having to clean out their toilets with lemon juice, what are you going to do?” said Marina Fitzgerald with the University of Kent.
Christopheros hopes that stiffer punishments can be implemented.
“I strongly believe that the sentencing for anyone who carries out any form of acid attack, whether their intended victim is injured badly or not, should serve a life sentence, with a minimum term of 20 or more years,” he said.
- With files from Jeff Semple and Reuters
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.