John Reilly called Esmael Elmarghani a “Muslim b*****d” when he wasn’t even a Muslim
John Reilly, 41, of no fixed address, admitted racially aggravated assault causing actual bodily harm
A prisoner poured boiling water in a sleeping inmate’s eye at HMP Altcourse during a sickening racist attack.
Convicted robber John Reilly demanded a turn on a pool table when Esmael Elmarghani was playing a game.
Liverpool Crown Court heard Elmarghani, 38, originally from Libya, didn’t want any trouble and said ‘that’s fine”.
To ensure there were no hard feelings, he offered Reilly a fist bump, which the 41-year-old reciprocated.
But when he went back to his cell and fell asleep, Reilly collected boiling water from a tea urn in a beaker.
The cowardly thug then crept up to defenceless Elmarghani and emptied its contents onto his left eye.
He woke in immense pain and Reilly warned: “Don’t go out you Muslim b*****d – if you go out I will kill you.”
Derek Jones, prosecuting, said Elmarghani – who is not actually Muslim – was terrified but alerted prison guards.
He had been in the jail since early last year and had “kept himself to himself” before the June 17, 2017 incident.
CCTV footage captured Reilly hiding the beaker, going in Elmarghani’s cell, onto the landing, then back in the cell to attack.
Mr Jones said the victim was taken to Whiston hospital, where he received treatment including ointment for three days.
Reilly, of no fixed address, appearing via video link from HMP Birmingham, admitted racially aggravated assault causing actual bodily harm.
Judge Gary Woodhall questioned why he was not charged with causing grievous bodily harm, which Mr Jones said surprised him.
Elmarghani revealed he no longer had any scarring on his face, but is receiving treatment for his left eye from ophthalmologists.
The victim said he had suffered depression since the incident and was nervous of people coming close to him.
He said he was afraid of people holding bottles of water and found going out in public and getting a new job difficult.
Because of the damage to his skin, he said he avoided sunlight or direct heat and no longer felt able to work as a chef.
Mr Jones said: “He describes having partial vision and his ongoing course of treatment involves having injections to his left eyeball.
“He is still unsure if the damage to the eye will be permanent or not.”
Reilly, who refused to be interviewed when police attended prison, has 42 previous convictions for 142 offences, dating back to 1992.
They include wounding, assaults, drugs, possession of weapons, affrays and a robbery he was jailed for five years over in 1998.
He was locked up for five years, four months with an extended two years, eight months on licence in September 2015 for robbery.
And just nine days after this attack, he assaulted a prison guard by punching him in the face and was convicted of battery.
Charles Lander, defending, said his client – who was due for release next March – was “embarrassed and ashamed”.
He said: “The defendant says after a game of pool his head was stewing, he was going to get a coffee and for some reason he just went into that room and acted as he did.”
Mr Lander said Reilly had anger management issues and was possibly schizophrenic but at the time was not receiving his medication.
He said he was embarrassed to now have a conviction for racism and never had any problems before with Muslims or ethnic minorities.
Judge Woodhall said Reilly “muscled in” on the game of pool and Elmarghani didn’t argue back, but then suffered a “very painful” injury.
He said: “It fact Mr Elmarghani is not a Muslim but you clearly believed he was and that was the motivation, at least in part, for this unprovoked attack.”
The judge handed Reilly two years and eight months in prison – consecutive to his existing sentence – meaning he will not be released before July 2020.