Mum whose lip was bitten off by a stranger too traumatised to go out

A woman says she is too terrified to go out alone after a stranger bit her lip off – before he was captured on CCTV calmly enjoying a Nando’s – in a horrifying unprovoked attack at London’s Notting Hill Carnival.

The mum-of-two had been enjoying the annual festival on August 25 last year, when a man appeared “out of nowhere” from the crowds.

In the frenzied few seconds that followed, he lunged forward and headbutted Vicky Silva, who has chosen to give a false name to protect her safety, screaming, ‘I am the devil’ before sinking his teeth into her top lip and biting a chunk off.

Reeling in shock, former cleaner Vicky, 42, was left standing in the middle of the street, blood spewing profusely from a gaping hole in her face.



Meanwhile, her attacker, who was later identified as 42-year-old Jason Thompson, of Harringay, north London, fled the scene, and was later caught on CCTV in a nearby Nando’s restaurant.

Speaking as Thompson was jailed for 14 years at Isleworth Crown Court after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent, Vicky, who now lives in Swindon, Wiltshire, said: “I’m just grateful I’m still alive. The attack left me wishing not to be here.”

She continued: “If it hadn’t been for the amazing support and help from the police and medical staff, as well as my family, I might not be here today.

“I’ve always been a strong person and had belief in myself, but Thompson has taken that away from me.

“But in all honesty, I don’t hate him. When people do something wrong, they often try to run away from it or deny it, but him admitting it means that, maybe one day, he could change.”

Having moved from the UK from south Brazil 14 years ago, Vicky had loved living in the capital – but that all changed in August last year.

Alongside two friends, she had ventured for the first time to the carnival, an annual event featuring sound systems and a parade, taking place in the west of the city.

“I’d never thought about going before, but two of my girlfriends were going, so I thought ‘Why not?’” Vicky explained. “At first, the carnival was loads of fun. We were taking selfies and dancing.”

But things soon took a turn when, at around 5:30pm, a few hours after they had arrived, Vicky lost her friends in the crowds.

She continued: “The carnival was so packed with people – there was no way I was going to find them.

“When I tried to call them, I realised my phone had no signal. I couldn’t order an Uber either, so I was stuck. I started to panic, and I had no idea how I was going to find my way home.”



Mum whose lip was bitten off by a stranger too traumatised to go out

Keen to escape the throng of people so she could get her bearings, Vicky asked a group of women if they could point her in the direction of the nearest bus stop – and it was then that Thompson appeared.

Instantly aggressive, he pushed into her – and when she asked why, he offered a chilling reason.

Vicky recalled: “He stared at me and shouted, ‘Because I am the devil’.His voice sounded evil and menacing – like there was no stopping him. It felt like he was the actual devil. I felt completely terrified.”

She continued: “All of a sudden, he leapt forward, headbutted me and bit my lip – but at that time, I had no idea he’d actually bit the left part of my top lip completely off.”

With that, Thompson, who is around 6ft tall compared to Vicky’s 4ft 9inch frame, began to flee, weaving his way through the crowd.

But, even in her state of shock, she was determined not to let him get away, she continued: “I had no idea what had happened. All I was thinking about was that I could see him zig-zagging his way through the crowd and getting away.”

She added: “I turned and saw two police officers standing nearby, so I walked over to them. I didn’t want them to help me – at that moment I just wanted them to catch him.”

But seeing the extent of blood-soaked Vicky’s horrific injuries, the officers quickly alerted nearby paramedics, who took her to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, west London.



Mum whose lip was bitten off by a stranger too traumatised to go out

She added: “I don’t remember feeling much pain because of the shock and adrenaline of it all.”

Vicky was then transferred to Northwick Park Hospital, in Harrow, Greater London, where, after surgery on her lip to repair the nerve damage caused, she spent the next three days.

“Once the adrenaline wore off, I wasn’t able to speak. I didn’t want anyone to see me or to know what happened,” she continued. “It was awful. I felt like my life was over. I lost my appetite – but all I could eat anyway for two weeks was soup through a straw.

“The whole time I was recovering, I just prayed that the police would catch this monster.”

She added: “Something in my head told me to keep faith that he would be caught. I knew I didn’t deserve this, and I knew he didn’t deserve to have his freedom.”

Meanwhile, the police had been doing everything in their power to catch Thompson.

Eight days after the attack, they launched a public appeal for information – and thankfully, a witness came forward, which subsequently led to Thompson being arrested and charged on September 4.

“I was overcome with emotion when I found out he’d been caught. It was so important to me that he was found,” Vicky said.

Since being discharged from hospital, Vicky has undergone a second bout of surgery, where cartilage from her nose was used to rebuild the flesh that was bitten off, but she’s expected to need at least four further operations over the next two years to fully repair her lip.



Mum whose lip was bitten off by a stranger too traumatised to go out

Recalling the heartbreaking moment she saw her reflection for the first time after the attack, Vicky, who has two adult daughters aged 22 and 23, who she does not wish to name, said: “The doctors told me not to look at my face, but I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to see what damage he’d done, so I opened my phone camera.”

She continued: “When I saw my reflection, I went cold and thought, ‘This cannot be true.’ I remember praying and asking for God to take my life. I’ll be scarred for life because of him.”

But for Vicky, whose nerves are too shattered for her to work, the physical scars pale into insignificance in comparison to the mental anguish she has suffered.

“I still can’t go to the supermarket by myself – even during the day,” she said. “Sometimes I bring my little niece, who is just a child, along with me. She’s still a child, so if anything did happen, she wouldn’t be able to help, but it just brings me some comfort not being alone.”

She added: “Maybe one day I’ll get better, but every day is still a struggle for me, I’m still completely petrified.”



Mum whose lip was bitten off by a stranger too traumatised to go out

Vicky, who is single, has even had to leave her flat in Bayswater, west London, as she could no longer bear to live in the city, moving instead to Swindon in December last year to be near to her extended family.

In February this year, Jason Thompson, of Appleby Close, Haringey, admitted his crime at Isleworth Crown Court.

“I didn’t go to the court because I didn’t want to see him again,” Vicky said. “In my mind, I constantly replay his face and him coming up and biting me. I see him in my head all the time, so I don’t want to see him in person ever again.”

With Thompson now behind bars, though Vicky, who did not attend his sentencing either, feels justice has been done, she is still facing the daunting prospect of piecing the shattered parts of her life back together.



Mum whose lip was bitten off by a stranger too traumatised to go out

She also cannot help but think about the precious memories her injury has stolen from her, such as her eldest daughter’s graduation, which she was too traumatised to attend.

She said: “Yes, doctors can try and fix my lip, but they cannot fix my happiness or to help me accept my appearance. I’ve got to do that for myself, by taking each day as it comes.

“Not only has this impacted my life, but it’s impacted both my daughters’ lives too.

“My youngest still can’t understand why someone would do this to her mum. She’s suffered with terrifying nightmares about me getting attacked ever since. My oldest, who was training to be a doctor at the time, graduated shortly after the attack and she was devastated that I wasn’t able to attend her graduation because I couldn’t bring myself to leave the house.”

She added: “I’ve not been able to work since this happened, but I hope one day I will be able to again. I’d love to open my own cleaning business so I can provide for my family and my daughters in the future.

“Still, I’m thanking God that he’s in jail and that justice has been done. Now, he has a lot of time to think about what he did.

“I believe in God, and I have my daughters, friends and family and now I want to look to the future.”

Detective Chief Inspector Driss Hayoukane, from the Notting Hill post-investigation Unit, said: “Jason Thompson has not only caused the victim life-changing physical injuries, but also some deeply troubling emotional injuries as well.”

He continued: “Due to this unprovoked attack, the victim felt so scared to be in London that she stopped living in the capital after more than a decade and struggles to go out in public on her own.

“My whole team work non-stop to identify Thompson after this attack, and we have all felt some sort of responsibility for making sure that he gets the jail time that he so rightly deserves.

“The streets are a much safer place with this dangerous individual in jail.”

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