A pathologist has outlined how ammonia attack victim Andy Foster died within a day of being sprayed with the corrosive liquid by a late-night visitor to his home.

The trial of four men accused of his murder has heard that the 26-year-old asthma sufferer dealt cannabis to callers at his home in Wrekenton, Gateshead.

But after someone knocked shortly after 11pm on Sunday August 20, last year, following a brief discussion he was heard screaming and struggling to breathe.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that his partner, Katie Harrison, who was upstairs in bed at the time, rang 999 and followed the instructions of a call handler, cleansing Mr Foster’s face with cold water and performing CPR, after he staggered outside gasping for breath.

The Northern Echo: Pair accused of the murder of ammonia attack victim Andy Foster on doorstep of his Gateshead home,

But by the time ambulance paramedics arrived and took over resuscitation attempts several minutes later, Mr Foster had stopped breathing.

Home Office pathologist Dr Sam Haggard told the court that Mr Foster was resuscitated, but, when asked how long he had stopped breathing, he replied: “20 to 25 minutes”.

Dr Haggard said: “The consequences of his heart stopping breathing for that length of time proved fatal.”

He said the brain being starved of oxygen for such a length of time, with no blood getting to it, could prove fatal even if the heart started beating again, as it would be irreversibly damaged.

Dr Haggard said if ammonia is inhaled it would have an irritant effect on the lung.

He said it may trigger a bronchospasm, constricting smaller air ways in the lung, making it harder for the victim to breathe, which may happen very quickly.

“It would be harder for a person to breathe even if they didn’t have asthma.”

So, he said the cause of death in this case would have been irreversible fatal damage sustained by the brain due to cardiac arrest, with the heart having stopped beating, due to bronchial spasm, in turn due to inhalation of a corrosive substance.

He added: “In my opinion asthma contributed to this death, but did not directly cause it.”

Dr Haggard confirmed the “trigger” would have been the inhalation of a corrosive substance.

The Northern Echo:

Following the evidence of the pathologist, intelligence analyst Kelly Reece started working through a sequence of cell site analysis of the defendants’ phones, referring to location, the messaging between them at relevant times, plus automatic number plate recognition of vehicles involved in the fatal attack and earlier incidents involving corrosive-type substances, as well as available cctv footage.

The prosecution alleges Mr Foster’s death was as a result of the fourth such attack in the space of 11 days in the South Tyneside and Gateshead areas, last August.

All were said to be the “taxing” of local drug dealers at the behest of by Youssef Wynne, himself a dealer, to deter the competition.

They were said to have been carried out by his “enforcer” Kenneth Paul Fawcett, assisted by friend John George Wandless in the last three cases.

A fourth man, Josh Craig Hawthorn, described as Wynne’s “right-hand man” in his drug dealing, is alleged to have played a part in organising the final, fatal attack.

Fawcett, 33, of Balkwell Avenue, North Shields, and Wandless, also 33, formerly of North Shields, but said to be of no fixed abode, plus 39-year-old Wynne, of Wuppertal Court, and 22-year-old Hawthorn, of Ashfield, both Jarrow, South Tyneside, all deny the murder of Mr Foster and robbery of cannabis edibles from him.

Wynne denies assaulting Mr Foster, causing actual bodily harm, 11 months earlier.

Fawcett, Wandless and Wynne also deny causing grievous bodily harm with intent to a woman who lost an eye, in the third attack, on August 16, and attempted gbh with intent to another victim, in Hebburn, on August 12.

See more court stories from The Northern Echo by clicking here

South Shields man was first of four ammonia attack victims in 11 days

Gateshead doorstep ammonia attack led to death of victim within hours

Four men now accused murder of Andy Foster in ammonia attack

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Fawcett and Wynne deny a similar charge relating to the first victim, in an incident in South Shields, on August 9.

The court heard that Wandless has admitted handling a stolen Volkswagen Golf between August 3 and 23, and arson, destroying it by fire, on August 22 last year.

The trial, which the jury has been told could run to mid-June, resumes on Monday (May 20).