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Father blinded by acid attack that left his face so badly burned his son didn’t recognise him

A father-of-three left blinded in a sickening acid attack where he felt ‘his face falling off’ describes living in a ‘world of darkness’.

Lee Deakin, 37, from St Helens, Merseyside, was ambushed by two men in bubble jackets while he was getting a phone charger from his car on Milton Street, Sutton Manor.  

He recalled feeling ‘intense burning’ and the only thing he could hear was his partner Amy screaming, when the horrific incident happened at 9.20pm on April 14. 

Lee Deakin, 37, from St Helens, Merseyside, was ambushed by two men  with corrosive liquid on Milton Street, Sutton Manor, Merseyside. Pictured, Lee two weeks after surgery at St Paul’s Eye Unit in Liverpool

And the damage to his eyes was so bad that Lee’s five-year-old son didn’t recognise him while he was recovering from surgery St Paul’s Eye Unit in Liverpool.  

Merseyside Police say tests confirmed the substance was corrosive and attack was targeted yet the exact substance remains unknown. 

Lee said: ‘I managed to grab hold of one of my attackers, but let go a few seconds later when I started to the feel the effects of what they’d done.

Lee, before the horrific attack, which he described 'robbed' him of his 'independence and quality of life'

Lee, before the horrific attack, which he described ‘robbed’ him of his ‘independence and quality of life’ 

‘All I could feel was intense burning – it felt like my face was melting off. I was instantly blind.’

In a desperate attempt to save his eyesight, Lee ran into the bathroom and blasted his face with a cold shower.

He was taken to hospital where a surgeon described his injuries as the worst he had seen in his 23-year career.

Doctors stitched the inside of a placenta to his eye in order to regrow the damaged cells.

Lee said: ‘On my ward at night after everyone had gone, I’d sit in my world of darkness and think, ‘I really, really hope this works, because if it doesn’t, I don’t think I can live this way’.

‘I was sent home to let the transplants heal, still completely blind, which impacted my life in so many ways.’ 

He continued: ‘It was so frustrating not being able to do the most basic of things, like putting toothpaste on my toothbrush or checking what was in the fridge.’ 

The self-employed driver was unable to work which left a ‘huge financial impact’ on his family as the main provider for the household. 

‘I was robbed of my independence and quality of life’, he said. 

‘I can’t describe how hard it was having no choice but to rely on everyone around you for everything.’ 

He added: My son is five and my youngest daughter is nine, and it broke my heart to think that in ten years’ time, I might not know what they look like.

‘You don’t realise how much you take your sight for granted until it’s gone.’

But then after seven weeks without his sight, the membrane in his eye dissolved and his vision gradually returned. 

He said: ‘I just stopped and broke down. I’d been a prisoner in my own body and after weeks of pain and uncertainty, I could see.

‘I’m thankful that the attack ended after the chemicals were thrown.

The former self-employed driver said he 'owes' the team at the hospital his life

The former self-employed driver said he ‘owes’ the team at the hospital his life 

‘My eyes were completely red and very swollen for a while which still replays in my children’s minds. Now my eyes look almost back to normal, my five-year-old son said that I look like his ‘real dad’ again now.

Lee said he could ‘never repay’ the team that looked after him from the emergency services, the surgeons, nurses and cleaners on the ward.  

In a heart-warming thank you he said: ‘Without all these people, I would categorically be blind and disfigured. I nearly lost everything, and they gave it back to me, and I’m so happy that I still look like my children’s dad.

‘I don’t just owe them my sight, I owe them my life.

‘I call this experience my ‘dark gift’. It’s made me so grateful for the people I have in my life and I’ve met loads of wonderful people through it. 

‘I’ve still got a way to go on my road to recovery and I’m not through the woods yet, but I’m positive about the future and I really hope my story helps others.’

Detective Inspector Lisa Ryan of Merseyside Police said at the time: ‘This was an unprovoked attack and enquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances in relation to the incident. The investigation is in the very early stages and we are working to determine what was thrown at the victim.

‘I would appeal to anyone who was in the area of Milton Street who may have witnessed the incident, or two men in bubble jackets acting suspiciously in the area before or after the incident.’

Anyone with information about Lee’s attack is asked to DM @MerPolCC, or call 101 quoting reference 0873 of 14 April or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.