A phone shop manager has bravely revealed his destroyed face after he was doused in acid as he walked out of a cinema.
Samir Hussain left a screening of Straight Outta Compton when he was attacked with what police believe was sulphuric acid.
The 28-year-old was in agony as the acid burned into his flesh and said it was only because he shielded his face that he was not blinded.
He was left badly scarred and now has to wear an uncomfortable face mask 24 hours a day as he recovers from the assault in the car park of Crawley Leisure Park in West Sussex, between 1 and 1.30am on August 30.
Sensation in many parts of his face, arms and neck has been lost and his left eye now does not close properly.
Samir has undergone plastic surgery and multiple skin grafts and must wear the mask constantly for at least the next 18 months.
As he is the manager of the Three phone shop in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, he is constantly reminded of what happened because he gets asked so many questions as he deals face-to-face with at least 100 customers a day.
He said: “About 90 per cent of those people ask what happened and I live through it again and again and again.
“It comes to a point where you have to disconnect from your emotions otherwise I think about it all the time. It’s made me a person I don’t want to be.”
He was operated on at the specialist reconstructive surgery centre at Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, West Sussex, and was off work for three months before forcing himself to return and move on with his life.
Samir added: “I had to force myself to go back, I didn’t want the attackers to win.
“I had to go back out there, I had bills to pay.
“It was probably a good thing, because I had to deal with people straight away.
“But it makes everything generally hard and it is hard to converse.
“Now, because of the facial injuries, people can’t tell if I am joking or smiling or being sarcastic.”
Samir said he has had to come with terms with people staring at him in the street.
He added: “I have had it for quite a long time but, for others, it is a big shock because they don’t see this every day.
“You have to learn to live with that. I don’t have a choice. When I got out to a normal place, like a restaurant, I am a bit, I would not say wary, but it does make me think about other people more.”
Samir, who has two sisters, and lives in Redhill in Surrey, has to massage his face and arms for two hours every day, plus wear a stifling mask, putting constant pressure on his face that will need treatment for years to come.
He must also stay out of the sun and will be left with his scars for life but hopes they will flatten as he begins to heal.
Samir has supported calls by James Berry, Conservative MP for Kingston and Surbiton, to control the sale of corrosive substances such as sulphuric acid, battery acid and powerful drain cleaners.
Mr Berry has said people buying dangerous substances should be made to pay using debit or credit cards so their details are recorded.
He also said anyone buying the most concentrated substances should need a licence.
The Home Office said sulphuric acid was a reportable “explosive precursor” which means people who sell it must report suspicious purchases to the police.
A spokesman said it was working with retailers to identify the best means of restricting sales of products with a high acidic content.
Samir added: “I will have this forever and there are other people out there, because there have been a lot of attacks, who have lost more than me.
“There has to be some sort of restrictions somewhere down the line. With regard to sentences, they are quite light.
“I reckon it could be a reason why there are more attacks, because the sentences are not harsh. The victims are getting life sentences, so there is no reason they should not be the same.”
Samir’s alleged attackers are set to stand trial next year.
Watch Samir talking about the importance of controlling the sales of acid: