Former boxer Michael Watson addresses reporters outside Snaresbrook Crown Court in London on Friday after thugs who attacked his car were sentenced for 150 years
Former boxer Michael Watson was left suffering flashbacks and seizures after being dragged 150 yards down the road by ammonia-wielding carjackers, who were today jailed for 150 years.
The 53-year-old, who was partially disabled after suffering a near-fatal brain injury during a fight with Chris Eubank in 1991, banged his head on the road as the thugs tried to steal the car he was in last year.
The former sportsman, who kept his eyes trained on the culprits in the dock at Snaresbrook Crown Court for much of the sentencing, told how he has been left feeling anxious and nervous since the attack.
Mr Watson, a former world title challenger, was a passenger in the Volkswagen Golf when it was shunted from behind and then commandeered by one of the assailants in Chingford, east London, on February 16, 2017.
Mr Watson’s friend and carer Lennard Ballack, who had been driving the car, was attacked by Paul Samuels who sprayed a clear liquid in his face.
Mr Ballack, whose ‘screams of pain’ were heard by witnesses, was then punched and kicked as the attack continued, now involving Simon Luck, a second attacker.
Mr Watson was dragged along the road as Samuels drove the car off at high speed in The Ridgeway, having been unable to escape after becoming caught in his seatbelt. The attackers eventually abandoned the carjacking.
Sentencing them, His Honour Judge Oscar del Fabbro said they had unwittingly attacked a ‘sporting legend’.
‘Having sprayed ammonia in the eyes of Mr Watson, who was in the passenger seat of the Golf, you put your foot on the down on the accelerator and made off in the car as he attempted to get out,’ he said.
‘Without any care for his safety or well-being you put your foot down for 10 metres with Mr Watson holding on to his seatbelt, clinging on at speed.
‘The incident was also traumatic not least because Mr Ballack and eyewitnesses thought Mr Watson was dead. But as we know Mr Michael Watson OBE is a boxing commonwealth champion.
‘He rose to considerable fame as a world champion contender, and he is made of sterner stuff both physically and mentally.’
The judge described the robberies as ‘almost militaristic’ as all the robbers knew ‘exactly what to do’.
The pair and a third man, Anselm Legemah, were also found guilty last week over an attack two weeks earlier in Loughton during which they sprayed ammonia at the driver of a car, causing him permanent eye damage, and injured the female passenger who had been celebrating her 16th birthday.
In a short victim impact statement, read to the court by prosecutor Robert Evans, Mr Watson said: ‘Since this ordeal I have suffered nothing but flashbacks. I have suffered from five or six physical seizures due to the stress.’
Adding that he now feels anxious, he said: ‘I feel sickened, mentally stressed by what these people have done to me.’
Luck and Samuels were found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit robbery and applying a corrosive fluid with intent to burn, maim, disfigure or disable, or to inflict grievous bodily harm.
The thugs pictured spraying Watson’s carer with acid and attempting to steal the car on February 16 last year
Legemah was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit robbery and applying a corrosive fluid with intent to burn, maim, disfigure or disable, or to inflict grievous bodily harm.
Luck, 29, and Samuels, 31, were each sentenced to 16 years in prison in relation to the carjackings.
Luck was further sentenced to four years after being found guilty of two counts of possession of class A drugs with intent to supply, namely heroin and crack cocaine.
Samuels was handed two further years after admitting the same offences.
Legemah, 23, was jailed for a total of 16 years.
Watson (left) fights Chris Eubank in 1991 during a bout that left him partially disabled