One day in December 2014, Andreas Christopheros received a knock at his front door. Then, after answering it, he found himself face to face with a random man whom he had never seen before. Within seconds of looking this stranger in the eyes, however, Christopheros’ life would change drastically in a way he probably never have could imagined.
Christopheros himself is a businessman who, in 2014, worked for a property and events company owned by his family. In 1987, moreover, that firm had started the popular British festival Run to the Sun, which invites Volkswagen car and camper owners to get together to show off their vehicles. The occasion sees DJs play and comedians perform, too.
Run to the Sun, moreover, is held in Newquay in the U.K., near to Christopheros’ house in Truro where he lived with his wife Pia and son Theo. And on December 9, 2014, Christopheros was working from his home. At one point, however, he saw a red van stop in his driveway.
Then there was a knock at the front door. Christopheros naturally answered it, anticipating the person calling to be delivering mail or even just a neighbor. But neither of those things were the case: instead, he was standing face to face with a complete stranger.
“I opened the door as you would normally do,” Christopheros recalled to British TV show This Morning in January 2016. The businessman also remembered the stranger on the other side of the threshold saying, “This is for you, mate.” Then, in just a second, Christopheros’ life changed irreversibly.
Standing in front of Christopheros was David Phillips, a 49-year-old painter and decorator from 300 miles away in Hastings. Then, after the pair’s brief exchange, the visitor threw a cup of sulphuric acid into Christopheros’ face. And the effects of the attack were not only devastating, but they also nearly killed Christopheros.
“The pain was inexplicable, it’s like nothing I have ever felt,” Christopheros described to the presenters of This Morning. He added, “You can’t even comprehend, but I knew straight away that it was acid. My T-shirt dissolved. It was like a waistcoat. There was no doubt in my mind [that it was acid].”
In agony, Christopheros then shouted to his wife, who at the time was tending to their son in another room, to notify emergency services. Meanwhile, he subsequently “ran to the kitchen and started dousing myself with as much water as I could, because that was the only thing I knew to do,” as the dad would tell This Morning.
And the only other thing that Christopheros recalls from that day was relaying as many details as he could remember from the incident to the paramedics, in the hope that police would go on to apprehend Phillips. Then, when Christopheros arrived at the hospital, he fell into a coma. Heartbreakingly, doctors even told Christopheros’ wife and mom that he probably wouldn’t survive his injuries.
Indeed, after the acid attack victim had been transferred by air to a specialized burns unit, he was placed on “death watch” due to the likelihood of him contracting a fatal infection. Despite the horrifying nature of his injuries, however, the businessman defied the odds and lived to tell the tale. But his life would never be the same again.
Christopheros’ face was so disfigured in the attack, for instance, that he couldn’t bear the prospect of seeing his reflection. As a result, he asked for mirrors in the hospital to be concealed. And when the time finally came to see what had befallen him, he chose to have his friends around him. But an even harder revelation lay ahead.
Specifically, Christopheros had to reveal his new self to his son – a moment he was dreading. “That haunted me,” he told This Morning. “From the time I could speak, we made the decision to not let him by the hospital.” Eventually, though, he plucked up the courage to see Theo.
Even after that decision, however, the attack victim was apprehensive about how his son would react. Christopheros explained to This Morning, “It was almost two months of him being away from me and two months of thinking, ‘Will he even recognize me? And, if he does, will he be scared of what I look like? Will he be scared of the mask?’” He added, “You always think the worst, don’t you?”
“Luckily, Theo’s amazing,” Christopheros went on. “My wife brought him down, and he looked at me and nestled into her neck. Then, about two minutes later, he just stuck his arms out for me and clung on to me and wouldn’t let go.” Christopheros added that he didn’t know what would have happened had his son responded differently.
Meanwhile, as of August 2017 Christopheros has undergone as many as 12 surgical procedures, although he still needs yet more work done. They include reconstructive surgery to 90 percent of his face, for which skin from his neck and scalp was used. However, Christopheros’ eyelids have subsequently disappeared as the scarring tightened on his face.
“Not having eyelids has probably been the most torturous thing that I’ve been through,” Christopheros described to Reuters in August 2017. “You can’t hide from the light. You can’t shut your eyes.” Sleep, too, is a battle for the entrepreneur, whose career has also suffered.
But why was Christopheros attacked in the first place? Well, Phillips had erroneously believed that a man at Christopheros’ home address was responsible for sexually assaulting a family member of the attacker’s. And the painter and decorator duly drove across the country to deal with the situation in his own way.
Eventually, however, Phillips was tracked down, arrested and taken to court. A guilty plea earned him a life sentence in prison, with eight years minimum to be served. After a successful appeal of this verdict, though, Phillips’ sentence was reduced to 16 years – although the chance of him receiving parole after eight years still stands.
Plus, Phillips’ apology to his victim in the courthouse was later rebuked by Christopheros. “He was very uncooperative with the police and only pleaded guilty at the 11th hour when I was in the witness room to give evidence,” Christopheros told This Morning. “We walked past and he gestured to his heart and said, ‘I’m sorry.’”
“To be honest, it fell on deaf ears. We just walked straight past. It didn’t make any difference,” Christopheros concluded. And, according to the interview he gave the British TV show, his only goal now is to move forward. “You deal with what is in front of you and you move on. [I] lost a year of my life at the age of 30,” he revealed. Christopheros added, “It’s significant. I’m not going to lose any more time. Time is precious for me.”