Male shoplifter squirted ammonia in shop workers' faces almost blinding them as he tried to escape

A 26-year-old violent male shoplifter has been jailed after he squirted ammonia at shop workers while they were working. He squirted the corrosive liquid at two members of staff who caught him shoplifting at a sports shop in south London. 

Julian Harvey-Bernard had poured the corrosive liquid into a Lucozade bottle and then squirted it at employees in the shop inside Lewisham Shopping Centre on December 2, 2016.

Two staff members had confronted Harvey-Bernard when a security tag alarm was activated within the store.

Violent Shoplifter, Julian Harvey Bernard 

When he left the shop, the two staff members approached him to ask him to step back inside the premises but he squirted one in the face with ammonia.

The second member of staff chased him as he attempted to run away, at which point he also sprayed her in the face with the liquid.

Both victims were taken to hospital where they received treatment for non life-threatening injuries which police believe could have blinded them.

Julian Bernard, then 24, made off from the scene on foot and officers were unable to locate him until March last year, when he was found at Belmarsh Prison where he was on remand for an unrelated offence of possessing ammonia.

On Tuesday (January 9), he pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawfully throwing a corrosive fluid, one count of shoplifting and one count of being in possession of ammonia.

He was handed a three-year prison sentence for the five offences after appearing at Woolwich Crown Court.

Detective Constable Paul De Waal, of Lewisham CID, said: “During police interview Harvey-Bernard claimed to have been shoplifting to raise cash to buy food.

Image - Julian Harvey-Bernard 

“He said that he planned only to use the ammonia in order to effect a fast escape and not to actually injure anybody.


“This conviction clearly demonstrates that there is no justification for inflicting potentially blinding injuries. 


“Anyone considering carrying or using corrosive fluids as a weapon should take heed of his conviction.”

Published 23rd January 2018

Last updated 23rd January 2018