A ‘MUSLIM elder’ who ‘pretended’ to attack a three-year-old boy with acid outside a Worcester school was branded a ‘conman’ in court.

Saied Hussini, one of three people seen ‘loitering’ outside a Worcester school, told a jury he only wanted to ‘save’ the boy from his own ‘desperate’ father who intended to hurt him.

“Why not help him? He’s a friend. He has a bad idea. I can save him and his child” said Hussini.

The 43-year-old Afghan, who had been speaking through a Dari interpreter, suddenly began answering questions in English during the trial at Worcester Crown Court yesterday. Hussini is one of seven defendants who deny conspiracy to apply a corrosive fluid with intent between June 1 and July 22 last year.

The three-year-old suffered burns to his face and arm in the alleged attack in Home Bargains,Worcester at 2.16pm on Saturday, July 21 last year. Hussini, Norbert Pulko and casino receptionist Martina Badiova where all photographed by suspicious locals waiting outside the city school on Friday, July 13 last year, eight days before the boy was squirted with sulphuric acid. The prosecution say this was an earlier, failed mission to ‘mark’ the boy before the plot, driven by the child’s Afghan father, came to fruition.

At the time the father’s estranged wife had left him, taking their children with her. Custody and access arrangements were the subject of an ongoing family court case.

Pulko, captured on CCTV outside the school, was also in Home Bargains on the day of the alleged attack with Jan Dudi and Adam Cech, the man who squirted the boy with acid.

Hussini of Wrottesley Road, London, accepted he had been shown the child’s family home in Worcester on July 9 last year and had stayed with the child’s father in Wolverhampton after being picked up from London.

Hussini, who affirmed rather than swearing on the Koran, was cross-examined by Phil Bradley QC, representing the boy’s 40-year-old father. Hussini said the father has shown him a badminton racket which had been ‘fixed’ so it had a knife in the handle and had already found ‘a hitman’ who could harm his child for £5,000.

Mr Bradley told Hussini he had portrayed himself as ‘a Muslim elder’ who wanted to bring the father’s family back together.

“Would you entertain the idea of helping him to reconcile with his family if he had a weapon available to injure a child?” said Mr Bradley.

Hussini said the father’s plan to hurt the child was wrong and he was waiting for Eid to reunite the family. When asked if he was only at the school to ‘protect’ the child he replied ‘exactly’.

Mr Bradley said instead of going to the police about the father’s intentions the former asylum seeker had consulted Pulko who was ‘like a son’ to him. When Hussini told Pulko of the father’s intention to hurt his child he said the 22-year-old told him he would not do such a thing ‘for all the wealth in the world’.

Hussini said Pulko had suggested the father use acid instead of a knife but they only intended to pretend to hurt the boy outside the school.

“It was a con on your case was it?” said Mr Bradley.

“Just killing time” said Hussini.

“You’re a conman aren’t you?” said Mr Bradley.

Hussini repeated that he had been ‘killing time’, claiming he had only learned of the boy's injuries on July 27 last year, the day after his arrest. Mr Bradley put it to Hussini that had spoken to Pulko the day after the attack (July 22), minutes after the Slovak had conducted an internet search about the alleged acid attack.

But Hussini said in that conversation the acid attack was not discussed. Mr Bradley said that Hussini had answered none of the questions put to him by police in interview ‘beyond bare denials’ but Hussini told the jury this was what his solicitor had advised him to do.

Mr Bradley was asked if he had given the father ‘a pitch’ and told him Badiova was ‘someone on the inside in social services’.

Hussini denied this was the case. But Mr Bradley said Hussini had attempted to exploit the father’s family situation to make money out of him.

“He never gave you instructions to hurt his little boy, did he?” said Mr Bradley.

“Why would I hurt a child if the father is not telling us?” replied Hussini.

“You have told this jury a complete pack of lies haven’t you?” said Mr Bradley. Hussini answered ‘no’.

Melanie Simpson, for Pulko, said Hussini had previously involved her client in a ‘cash for crash scam’ and suggested this was how Hussini had hurt his leg in April last year. Hussini said he had fallen off a roof.

“I suggest you’re not telling the truth, that you were the boss of Mr Pulko, you were in charge of this surveillance, that Mr Pulko never had any conversation or agreed with you to use acid or to throw acid” said Miss Simpson.

“I was the boss of the surveillance, not what he did in the supermarket” said Hussini. She also put it to him that on his case Pulko was paid £2,600 for ‘doing nothing, for just pretending’ on July 13 and he answered ‘yes’.

The trial continues.