Man stabbed and squirted with ammonia in attack by thug and two girlfriends

Paul Smith
Paul Smith

A thug and two of his girlfriends took part in a terrifying group attack where a man was stabbed and squirted with ammonia.

Paul Smith, his then partner Shauna Connolly and Sarah Schonewald, confronted their victim at a flat in Sunderland in an early morning assault last March that he said has "changed my life".

Shauna Connolly

Shauna Connolly

During the violence the victim suffered a stab wound to his shoulder that needed sutures and the corrosive liquid, which was in a Fairy Liquid bottle, was squirted into his face.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the exact circumstances around what happened that morning were initially unclear.

But when Smith's then girlfriend Connolly saw pictures on Facebook of him having a foreign holiday with Schonewald, who he started a new relationship with just weeks after the attack, she made a confession to the police.

Mum of one Connolly, 26, of Lake Road, Houghton, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm on the basis she stabbed the victim with a knife that was handed to her by Smith, who encourage her to attack.

Sarah Schonewald

Sarah Schonewald

She has been jailed for 15 months.

Smith, 38, of Hedworth Terrace, Sunderland, admitted the same charge but on the basis he did not hand over the knife and did not instruct Connolly to attack but did throw the ammonia at the victim.

He has a long criminal record which includes serious offences of violence and has been jailed for three years and seven months.

Schonewald, 31, of Kidsgrove Square, Sunderland, also admitted causing grievous bodily harm on the basis she played an encouraging role through her words and presence during the violence.

The university student who is already a mum, has no previous convictions and is pregnant again, was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with rehabilitation requirements.

Connolly and Schonewald both pleaded guilty last summer and made statements for the prosecution before Smith admitted his guilt in February this year.

Another prosecution witnesses, who was at the flat during the attack, died due to illness before the case got to court.

Judge Edward Bindloss told them: "The complainant describes the ordeal as terrifying, leading to nightmares and flashbacks.

"It all came out of the blue, there were three people in the flat he did not expect, two weapons he did not expect and the weapons were used upon him.

"This clearly must have been a terrifying incident."

The court heard Connolly had a former relationship with the victim and there was a suggestion that the violence was out of "revenge".

The victim had been asleep at his pal's flat when the trio turned up shortly after six am on March 26 last year and woke him.

The court heard he was taken from a bedroom into a living room at the property where the attack took place.

Prosecutor Michael Bunch told the court the victim was stabbed and then ordered to drink ammonia from the bottle.

He added: "When he refused to do so, the contents were thrown over him, causing, in his word, excruciating pain."

The court heard the stab wound was treated with sutures and the victim's eyes were cleaned with saline solution.

In a statement to police the victim said the attack has "changed my life" and added: "I have constant nightmares and flashbacks of the assault."

John Wilkinson, defending, said Connolly is a very vulnerable woman who has led a chaotic lifestyle and been in abusive relationships.

Tony Hawks, defending, said Schonewald, who is also vulnerable and used no actual violence herself,, is determined to keep her life on track, complete her education and stay away from trouble in future.

Mr Hawks said she had just a "brief" relationship with Smith.

Glen Gatland, defending, said Smith has written an apology letter to the victim in a bid to explain what happened.

All three defendants have been given a five year restraining order to keep them away from the victim.