Man who squirted chemical at rival is jailed.
A DAD-OF-FOUR squirted a mystery chemical into a cabbie's eyes with a syringe, leaving him with ulcers on his eyes.
Dennis Rich pulled up alongside Paul Bryce in his car in Wallasey and aimed caustic liquid at him during a bitter feud.
He then asked his son, Callum Rich, to lie to police by claiming he was present when Mr Bruce had actually assaulted him.
Rich, 46, told Liverpool Crown Court he feared Mr Bruce, 51, and squirted him with a bottle of car polish in self-defence.
A jury took just six minutes to convict him of assault causing actual bodily harm, but cleared him of racially aggravated assault.
Judge Denis Watson, QC, said Rich fired the syringe from his driver's seat, across the passenger seat and out of the window.
He said: "It caused enormous and immediate pain to his eyes. It was, to use his words in evidence, a very good shot."
The judge said he filled the syringe "with some caustic liquid or liquid irritant, the precise nature of which is not known".
A trial heard Mr Bruce's ex-girlfriend was in a relationship with Rich and "there was no love lost between the two gentlemen".
Rich had previously accused Mr Bruce of assaulting him, but police decided not to prosecute Mr Bruce.
Judge Watson told Rich: "It seems to me that only served in your mind to increase your hostility towards him." He said Mr Bruce - who claimed Rich had once "pulled an axe" on him - was "not someone given to backing down".
The pair argued in Wallasey at around 7.15pm on January 6 last year, when Rich shouted abuse at Mr Bruce. An hour later, Mr Bruce got out of his cab in King Street and saw Rich drive past in a Vauxhall Vectra, before doing a U-turn.
A shopkeeper washed Mr Bruce's eyes, but he was found to have suffered a "bilateral chemical injury" at hospital. He was treated for ulcers on the corneas of his eyes, suffered from reduced vision and was off work for five weeks.
Martine Snowdon, prosecuting, said police also arrested Callum Rich, 19, but CCTV footage showed he was not in his dad's car.
Rich has previous convictions for assault causing actual bodily harm and affray, plus two assaults against an ex-girlfriend.
He killed his wife Claire Rich, 30, the mum of his four children, in a car crash in 2002, after drinking 41/2 pints of cider.
Rebecca Smith, defending Rich, said he had mental health problems arising from his wife's death. Ms Smith said Rich regretted his actions and understood the consequences could have been "life-threatening and devastating".
Callum Rich, of Vivian Avenue, Seacombe, who does not have any previous convictions, admitted perverting the course of justice.
Gerald Pachter, defending the crying teen, said he was only 17 at the time and previously witnessed his dad being assaulted by Mr Bruce.
Mr Pachter added: "In a very twisted way, by picking up the phone [to give a false report to police] as he did, he thought he was helping his father."
Rich, of Silverbeech Road, Wallasey, who used crutches in the dock, sobbed as he was jailed for 21/2 years.
Judge Watson said Callum was at home when his dad returned and claimed to have been assaulted. He said: "Through misguided loyalty to your father, you agreed to phone the police, claiming that your father had been attacked by Mr Bruce."
The judge described this as "a reflex action" and said he was prepared to make an exception and spare Callum jail.
He handed him four months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement.
Dennis Rich - jailed for 21/2 years