A bitter litigant with an ‘obsessional hatred’ of the legal profession was locked up indefinitely for a horrific acid attack on a team of lawyers in the High Court.
Ashok Mahajan, 55, showered a barrister, solicitor and pupil with the contents of a bottle of hydrochloric acid after his race discrimination claim was thrown out.
Trainee barrister Lucy Colter suffered a burned eye as corrosive fluid dribbled down her face and melted through her tights.
Former accountant Mahajan had a decade-long history of courtroom outbursts including an incident where he threw a shoe at one barrister and threatened to shoot him.
Pint-sized Mahajan told psychiatrists he believed he was the victim of a ‘Nazi’ plot against him by the legal profession.
Mahajan was handed an indefinite period of imprisonment for the public protection ) after reports indicated he was a danger to the legal profession.
He was convicted of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent following a three week trial earlier this year.
Judge Nicholas Lorraine-Smith branded Mahajan the most difficult defendant he had ever dealt with.
Sentencing at Southwark Crown Court the judge told him: ‘I have had extensive dealings with you, Mr Mahajan, over the last six months, and I have no doubt whatsoever that there is a very significant risk of serious injury being caused by you committing further specified offences.
‘I don’t consider this offence warrants a life sentence, but the sort of revenge that you tried to take last October and the increasing intensity of your obsessional hatred of lawyers and now others who have to deal with you in a professionally persuades me that I must pass a sentence of imprisonment for the public protection, which means that you will not be released until it is safe to do so.
‘This was an attempt to cause grievous bodily harm to members of the legal profession, simply because they were carrying out their professional duty.’
The judge ordered that Mahajan will not be assessed for parole for a minimum of five years – the equivalent of a 10 year determinate sentence.
But he stressed: ‘You will remain in custody until the parole board is satisfied that you no longer need to be detained for the protection of the public.’
The judge added: ‘Mr Mahajan is without doubt the most difficult defendant that I have dealt with.
‘I have said that in open court before, and I think he is proud to be such.’
Mahahan, flanked by four burly mental health nurses, showed no reaction as sentenced was passed.
The court heard Indian-born Mahajan launched his attack in the High Court on October 15 last year.
He managed to smuggle the acid in a medicine bottle past airport-style security before throwing it Ms Colter, barrister Richard Liddell and solicitor Claire White after his application was thrown out.
Philip Bennetts, prosecuting, said: ‘The judge, on delivering judgment, ruled against the defendant.
‘The defendant obviously didn’t like that and what he did was he got up and he walked across the court.
‘He was told by the judge to remain, the hearing having not completed.
‘What he did then was produce a bottle and flung from that bottle liquid over these three people.
‘You may well conclude on the evidence that the defendant went there armed with it in case the judgment went against him.’
In a four-minute tape recording of the havoc the shouts and coughs of victims can be heard as an official rings for help.
Mahajan shouts: ‘F**k you …there’s no f**king justice in this stinking court.’
As security officials stormed in to find the chaotic scenes Indian-born Mahajan proclaimed: ‘I was trying to blind them …they’re all Nazis.’
The judge, Mr Justice Nicholas Underhill, left the court and security arrived moments later.
Mahajan was arrested at the scene and during police interview he accused the judge and lawyers of being ‘crooked and corrupt and a racist’.
The bottle was found on the courtroom floor, fitted with a child-lock screw cap and with his name on a pharmacy label.
Trainee barrister Ms Colter said: ‘The liquid started coming through the air then splashed.
‘It sort of rained down around me and I was aware that it was also going on Claire who was on my right.
‘I turned to see if she was all right, I looked at Mr Mahajan.
‘He looked back and was throwing more liquid from a container.
‘I was hit with liquid on the right side of my face across my cheekbone into the corner of my right eye.
‘It went into the right hand corner of my mouth and considerably down this side of my jacket and the side of my leg.
‘It was a couple of seconds after it first hit that I realised it wasn’t water.
‘It had an incredibly pungent smell, it was difficult to breathe, there was a bitter taste in my mouth.
‘My face and eye were stinging.’
The victims dashed for the door furthest away from Mahajan and outside she noticed Ms White had holes in her tights which grew before her eyes.
‘I looked at Claire and saw that the tights on her legs were dissolving into holes.
‘It was immediately said I have to get water,’ she said.
‘I was in a lot of shock so I wasn’t really focusing on the pain.
‘I was trying to focus on where the nearest bathroom was.’
She was finally ushered into a first aid room, where an attendant bathed her eye in salt water while they waited for the ambulance.
Ms Colter added: ‘I had a contact lens in and I said I should get it out.
‘I took my contact lens out, which was shrivelled on the exterior rim.’
Describing the state of her clothes, she said: ‘My tights were all burnt through into holes.
‘My skirt was stuck to my leg near my underwear.
‘At this point nobody knew what the liquid was, there was a great deal of confusion and concern.
‘It was burning into my legs and it was stinging.
‘Some of it had gone through my jacket onto my shirt and had turned it dark red in a chemical reaction.
‘The lining was stuck to the jacket.
‘My face was red and the side of my leg and arm were reddish and tingly.’
Mahajan had tried to sue his ex-employer for race discrimination but lost and took his solicitors Hodge Jones and Allen to the High Court for negligence.
He was aggrieved because the firm Hodge Jones and Allen had allegedly not submitted his race discrimination claim against employment agency AOC Ltd and Kingston Primary Care Trust, in time at Croydon Employment Tribunal in November 2001.
Mahajan admitted he had been in and out of civil courts for more than two decades, including to settle his divorce and arrange access to his young son.
Expressing his hatred of the courts he said: ‘They have ruined every single thing in my life, simply because they are a bunch of racist thugs. They are evil people.’
Asked by the judge if he really despised the judiciary this much he replied: ‘Nazis helped some people and fought for people, so to compare them to the legal system is an insult to the Nazis.
‘I have seen corruption, I have seen conspiracy, I do not want to be tried by this court.’
Mahajan represented himself during the three-week trial at Southwark Crown Court after his own barrister withdrew due to professional embarrassment.
He insisted he only hurled water so must have been framed and accused the ‘evil’ British judicial system of being ‘worse than Nazis’.
In a statement released following the sentencing, he repeated his claims that he had been racially discriminated against.
He accused the judge of being ‘evil’ and ‘a personal creation of Satan’ and described the jury as a bunch of ‘hand-picked racists.’
He added: ‘My conviction is as false as allegations of my mental insanity’, and branded his secure unit ‘Wandsworth Nazi UK Ltd.’
His barrister Naeem Karbhari – the eight to have represented him since the start of proceedings – told the court his client believed the prosecution were relying on ‘selective and partial’ reports.
Mahajan, of (124) Pempath Place, Wembley, was convicted of three charges counts of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent on October 15 last year.