Joined: Nov 2009
60 Minutes, 13 November 2009
When it comes to courage, determination and resilience very few can match 26 year old London woman, Katie Piper. Luckily not many of us have been tested in the way she has.
Eighteen months ago, as Katie walked along a London street, she was the target of a deliberate and vicious acid attack. A man carrying a cup approached Katie and threw the contents in her face. It was sulphuric acid and it instantly and unstoppably ate through all the layers of the skin on her face, badly burned her oesophagus and rendered Katie blind in her left eye. The man was a complete stranger to Katie but his attack was fuelled by a warped passion. Katie's obsessive former boyfriend had put him up to it.
The man behind the attack, 33 year old Danny Lynch, was described as a psychopath in court and it's hard to imagine a more cruel or cowardly individual. He and Katie had started dating just two weeks prior to the assault.
Unbeknown to Katie, Lynch had been following the young model and TV presenter's career and sent her a message on Facebook which was so friendly and familiar Katie thought she must have met him at some point but simply didn't remember him. She agreed to catch up with him at a martial arts competition where Katie was an ambassador of sorts and Lynch a competitor. They got to know one another through emails before Katie agreed to go out with him. A fortnight in Katie had reservations but it was too late. Following a date, Lynch kept Katie prisoner for eight hours. He repeatedly and savagely raped her. Over and over Lynch also threatened to kill Katie. She believes she only escaped with her life by convincing Lynch all was forgiven, she would tell no one of the attack and they could continue seeing one another which of course she had no intention of doing.
The man was clearly unhinged but Katie had no clue of what was to come. After escaping her rapist Katie locked herself in her flat too terrified of Lynch to call police or family. Lynch bombarded her with phone calls and texts which Katie took, frightened if she didn't Lynch would be back kicking her door in.
Lynch beseeched Katie to read an email he'd sent her and promised he would leave her alone forever if she simply left her flat, and went downstairs to a nearby internet café to get his message. Worn down by the barrage and the promise of never hearing from him again Katie agreed. But waiting out on the street for her was Stefan Sylvestre, the man Lynch had somehow enlisted to carry out the terrible acid attack.
As Sylvestre approached with his vile cup in hand Katie thought he was a beggar. As she reached into her bag to find him some money Sylvestre threw the acid over Katie.
The damage was immediate, the pain unimaginable and in an instant Katie believed life as she knew it was over. She could feel her face falling off and all her dreams slipping away.
Police believe Danny Lynch was less than 200 metres away watching the agony he'd orchestrated. Both he and Sylvestre are now in gaol, serving life sentences for the acid attack, caught out by Katie's testimony and their phone records. After two harrowing trials, Lynch has also been convicted of rape.
Lynch deliberately set out to destroy Katie, first with a humiliating and terrifying rape and then by targeting her beautiful face …a face that had launched her career.
What he didn't count on was a crack medical team willing to attempt a world first to give Katie the best chance at recovery or a woman whose extraordinary inner strength and humour makes her near indestructible.
A year and a half ago Katie didn't know this about herself either. She's happy to tell you for the first 25 years of her life she didn't need to rely on much more than her looks. Katie's now learned she was always much more than that and the manner in which she has sometimes struggled but ultimately coped with her ordeal is a reassuring reminder none of us should be valued on appearance alone.
|18-11-2009 06:24 PM