I felt acid melting my face away and wanted to die. Now I'll show the world this evil rapist didn't win
TV beauty Katie Piper tells of her 34 ops after attack
BRAVE: Katie recalls the attack. You can see Katie speaking on video by scrolling down this page
THE WAY SHE WAS: TV beauty
DEFIANT: Katie after the attack
EVIL: Lynch raped Katie
ACID ATTACK: Sylvestre
By Jennifer Wiley, 18/10/2009
TEARFUL blue eyes peer out defiantly from behind the mask helping to hold her ravaged face intact.
Her once beautiful face melted beyond recognition, acid attack victim Katie Piper steels herself to tell her chilling story for the first time.
Because the girl who not long ago was a budding TV presenter is determined that the brutal ex-lover who destroyed her good looks must know he has FAILED to destroy her life.
Evil Danny Lynch had already brutally RAPED Katie, kept her PRISONER and BATTERED her before he decided he wanted to spoil her beauty forever - and sent a henchman to hurl SULPHURIC ACID in her face.
But after 34 gruelling operations to heal her wounds both inside and out - including a WORLD FIRST graft involving a skin substitute - Katie (whom you can see on video below) tells the News of the World: "Danny tried to take everything from me.
"But he didn't get everything. First he stole my dignity and then he took my beautiful face away. He wanted my scars to be a permanent reminder of him - of his evil.
"But I want to show the world what he has done. And I want everyone to know he doesn't win."
In May twisted Lynch, 33, was jailed for life for what he did to Katie. And now the blonde 26-year-old has waived her right to anonimity to reveal her 17-month life-changing ordeal in harrowing and graphic detail:
ON HER RAPE: "He held me down against the bed by the back of my neck and was squeezing the pressure points. I thought he was going to kill me. He'd already started to rape me."
ON THE ACID ATTACK: "I could feel my face melting as the acid ate away at my skin. It was seeping into my throat and down my chest. I started thinking, 'Have I died?'"
ON HER INJURIES: "I looked in the mirror and was so angry. I wanted to know where my face was so I could go pick it up, put it back on and head straight back to my old life."
Katie had no inkling of the nightmare ahead when she met Lynch on Facebook in March last year.
She was working part-time as a ring girl for martial arts battle events - as well as modelling for catalogues and breaking into TV as a host on cable channels.
"I thought he was good looking," she said. "We talked about martial arts. I was due to be working at a fight on the weekend in Reading and he told me he would try to be in the audience.
"I spotted him in the front row and he came to a party afterwards where we chatted and he bought me a drink.
"We spent a few days messaging back and forth and I finally sent him my number. We decided to meet up for a night out.
"He brought me flowers and a teddy bear. He almost seemed in awe to be dating me - which I found strange but flattering at first."
Steroid addict Lynch, 6ft 4in, was soon infatuated with his girlfriend. Katie says: "There should have been alarm bells. My friends would joke 'He's your stalker'. But I liked how devoted he was. And I liked his athletic body.
"But it began to become clear to me that he was unhinged and jealous of virtually any man I spoke to. I began to think how I could ease him out of my life."
Then came the night of the rape. They were in a room at the Ramada hotel in London's Bayswater. Katie refused him sex and Lynch exploded with rage. "He pushed me back and I hit my head hard on a photo frame which knocked me unconscious," she says. "I came to with him straddling my neck and hitting my face.
"He pulled me to my feet in a headlock and dragged me into the bathroom. Blood was squirting out the back of my head. He put me in the bath and then started shouting, 'You can't just walk away from me'.
"I was begging him to get me dressed and take me to the hospital. Instead he told me to lie on the bed. I tried to fight back. But he held me down as he raped me. It felt like ages.
"By the time he stopped I was in terrible pain." Lynch kept Katie a prisoner for EIGHT HOURS, kicking and battering her. "He was ranting about how he hated me. I was sure he was going to kill me. He kept hitting my back and neck and legs."
At one point he held a razor to her face in the bathroom. "All I could think was, 'Please, not my face'," she says. "He even used my belt to tie a noose from a door hinge and said he was going to hang me."
She calmed him down and they left the hotel - but he forced her to drive him around London all day before finally setting her free.
Katie didn't go to the police because she was so terrified of reprisals. But Lynch bombarded her with texts and calls as she stayed holed up in her flat.
"It was mental torture. I was hoping he would get bored and leave me alone," she says. But Lynch was lurking across the street waiting to flush her out. And he had bullied pal Stefan Sylvestre, 21, into carrying out the acid attack.
Katie's internet connection went down in the flat and Lynch phoned her insisting she went across the street to an internet cafe to read a message he had left her.
Then he watched as she left the building and Sylvestre - in a hoodie and carrying a cup of sulphuric acid - pounced.
"The pain was almost indescribable," says Katie. "At first I thought, 'How rude, that guy has just thrown hot coffee all over me.' But it was so painful and my clothes started to evaporate.
"In one of Danny's calls the night before he'd told me he'd got a present for me that would change my life forever. So I knew instantly he was behind it.
"The pain was so bad I didn't think I was going to live. I knew my face was falling off, I could feel it evaporating. I banged on a restaurant window, my hands burning. They must have thought I was drunk because they locked their doors. I remember hearing this horrible screaming, and I thought 'I wish that would stop', and then I realised it was me. Then I remember hearing voices - it must have been doctors and nurses - but I couldn't see anything, so I thought I was in heaven."
The acid caused third degree burns to Katie's face, neck, chest, upper arms, wrists and hands and left her blind in one eye. It also caused severe damage to her respiratory system when she swallowed acid while screaming.
As she battled the agony Katie could only communicate with her parents, David, 60, and Diane, 58, through written notes. Her first said "Am I dead?" and in another she wrote "Kill Me".
Doctors then began rebuilding Katie's ravaged features - and her surgeon at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Mohammad Ali Jawad, carried out a world-first op on her.
He removed Katie's entire face and used a skin substitute, Matriderm, as a foundation for grafts from her lower back and thighs. Then she was kept in a drug-induced coma for 12 days.
She recalls her horror the first time she was allowed to look at herself in a mirror six weeks after the attack.
"At first glance I thought there was something wrong with the mirror," she says. "I had no eyelids and no hair.
"I remember thinking I don't look like a woman. I thought 'I look like Freddy Krueger'. I wanted to smash the mirror against my face." Bigger challenges were ahead as Katie returned to her childhood home to be cared for by her parents - and to await her attackers' trial. Lynch, from Shepherd's Bush, west London, was given two life sentences, to serve a minimum of 16 years, for the rape and the acid attack. Sylvestre, also from Shepherd's Bush, must serve at least six for the acid attack.
Judge Nicholas Browne told them: "The victim had a face of pure beauty. You two represent the face of pure evil."
Katie says: "I was so relieved when it was finally over. I felt like I could finally attempt to put that part of it behind me and get on with my life."
Because she had internal burns, Katie needed nearly 30 operations to repair her gullet and nostrils.
But the ground- breaking surgery on her face worked well and, combined with successful use of her plastic mask, Katie has been able to restore her features.
She must wear the mask for two years, 23 hours a day, as it flattens out any lumps and keeps in moisture. Earlier this year, she met Paddington rail crash survivor Pam Warren who also had to wear a facial mask for 18 months during her recovery. Katie says: "She looks amazing now. It gave me hope. It was really inspiring to meet her."
Last spring, Katie was filmed for three months for a Cutting Edge documentary about her ordeal. She credits the filming and support of her family and her surgeon Mr Jawad for getting her to a point where she is strong enough to come to terms with what happened.
"Although I have been scarred for life I am extremely happy with my new beautiful face," she says. "I look at old pictures of myself now and see her as a girl I spent loads of time with," says Katie. "It's like she was a best friend I'll never see again.
"But I am happy now. I laugh and smile every day. And thanks to the wonderful people around me I am going to be OK."