A TEENAGER was sprayed in the face with a noxious substance and robbed by yobs wielding a gun in a terrifying attack in a block of public toilets.

A gang of three men approached the 17-year-old boy in the toilet block in Southchurch Road, Southend, at about 3.30pm on Wednesday.

During the attack, he was sprayed in the face and mouth with an unknown liquid and his bag was stolen.

Inside the bag were cigarettes and a small amount of cash.

The trio then ran from the scene.

Det Supt Kevin Baldwin, South local policing area supt, told the Echo that one of the men was carrying what appeared to be a firearm.

He said: “The suspect had what appeared to be a silver handgun in his waistband.

“It is not clear if it was pointed at the victim during the robbery.

“The victim was then taken to hospital because of the stuff that was sprayed at him to have treatment.”

The victim’s injuries were not life-changing or life-threatening.

A 22-year-old man of no fixed address was later arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon and robbery following a disturbance at Chafford Hundred railway station at about 6.40pm that same day.

He is currently in custody for questioning.

Detectives are continuing enquiries to find other suspects involved.

Derek Kenyon, independent councillor for the Southchurch ward, said he was horrified by the incident.

He said: “We don’t know what this substance was but it could have easily been acid.

“The sudden trend of carrying liquid of whatever description is really nasty and horrible.

“A question I would ask is is it taking over from carrying knives? We are hearing more and more about it nowadays.

“It’s awful.

“I hope the liquid wasn’t what I think it was because that could ruin that boy’s life - I hope he makes a full recovery.”

Witnesses or anyone with information are asked to contact Southend CID on 101.

Alternatively, contact independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or www.crimestoppers-uk.org.