A man has spoken of his horror at drinking from a bottle of water which his former boss had laced with chemical cleaning fluid.
Allen Dobinson, 37, was delivering gas in his works van when he took a large gulp of what he believed was water and immediately felt a burning sensation in his throat.
I had that bottle of water for 24 hours. He had 24 hours to ring and warn me. He had all that time to tell me what was in the waterAllen Dobinson
Unbeknown to him, garage boss Kevin Burlinson, 53, had poured chemical tyre cleaner into a water bottle he found in Mr Dobinson’s van.
As reported in yesterday’s Echo, Mr Dobinson was left needing hospital treatment after his ordeal. Burlinson, who ended up in court over what a judge called “an act of gross stupidity” later claimed it was simply a prank.
Mr Dobinson, who lives at Hall Farm, Sunderland, had worked as a tyre fitter and manager at Burlinson’s company KB Tyres in Newbottle for seven years. But things became frosty at work, and Mr Dobinson left last December to take up a job delivering LPG gas.
However, on March 26, out of loyalty to his former friend, wanting to put work his way, he decided to take his works van to his garage for an oil and filter change.
Mr Dobinson handed over the key and returned an hour later to collect the van, in which he had left a bottle of water.
“I drove away and it wasn’t until I was in the next day when I drove the van again, that I took a drink from the bottle. It was a hot day and I was absolutely sweating, so I took a drink of the water. I finished the water, it was the last quarter of the bottle and I immediately thought my throat was on fire. “
“At first I thought it was petrol, but it couldn’t have been because it was clear, but I knew it was a chemical.
“I couldn’t bring it back because I had nothing in my stomach. I was worried. I was driving at the time. I deliver gas.
“Anything could have happened. I got to the next customer and got out of the van. He said I looked as though I was on a different planet. I didn’t know where I was or what to do. I was shaking like a leaf. My boss took me to Sunderland Royal Hospital.
“It lasted four days. I couldn’t eat at first, I was drinking water and milk, but it was like swallowing barbed wire. The hospital told me I had to wait for it to pass through my system.”
Burlinson, of Cardiff Square, Hylton Castle, was initially charged with administering poison or noxious substance with intent, however this was dropped when he admitted a lesser charge of common assault.
Judge Robin Mairs sentenced Burlinson to a conditional discharge for 12 months with a £100 compensation order at Newcastle Crown Court on Thursday.
“I think it’s disgraceful. It’s horrible. I felt physically sick when I found out,” Mr Dobinson said afterwards.
“I had that bottle of water for 24 hours. He had 24 hours to ring and warn me. He had all that time.
“He knew what I was carrying, and that I had just started in a new job. ”