A woman has been nabbed and is being tried after she was found out to have poured sulfuric acid on her boyfriend while he slept.
A woman murdered her ex-boyfriend by pouring sulphuric acid over him while screaming: ‘If I can’t have you no-one can’, a court heard today.
Berlinah Wallace was charged with murder after she allegedly threw the corrosive substance in the face of Mark van Dongen, who was in bed at the time.
He suffered 25 percent burns and had such serious injuries he was left paralysed – only able to move his tongue, Mark also lost a leg, his left eye, and most of the sight in his right eye following the sulphuric acid attack, Bristol Crown Court heard.
The 29-year-old civil engineer was left wanting to end his life and eventually successfully applied for euthanasia. He died 15 months after the incident.
Wallace, 48, carried out the attack out of jealousy after the couple split up and Mark began seeing another woman, the court was told.
In the weeks before the attack Wallace carried out internet searches including ‘can I die from drinking sulphuric acid?’ and searched for graphic images of acid attack victims.
She denies murder and applying a corrosive fluid after pouring acid over Mark van Dongen at 3am on September 23, 2015. Adam Vaitlingam QC, prosecuting, said: ‘The defendant had bought a bottle of sulphuric acid, which she bought online from Amazon.
‘At around 3am, as Mark was sleeping in bed, she poured the acid into a glass.
‘She then went into the bedroom, and woke him up. She laughed and said “if I can’t have you no-one will” and she threw the glass of sulphuric acid into his face.
‘It covered his face and parts of his upper body and dripped onto his lower body as he moved. ‘Covered in burning acid, Mark ran out into the street in his boxer shorts, screaming for help.’
The court heard couple had a five-year-relationship and lived together but it hit the rocks when Mark began seeing another woman in August 2015.
Shortly before his death, Mark, a Dutch national, told colleagues that Wallace had been violent towards him, and ‘seemed genuinely scared’.
The couple appeared to rekindle their romance, exchanging loving messages promising to try to make the relationship work again on September 22, the day before the attack.
Mark sent Wallace a message saying: ‘I love you, I always have. I’m truly sorry for what I’ve done, we need to work on our relationship.
‘You and me are meant to be. I’ve always known that. I will treat you as you deserve to be treated. You are my princess.’
Wallace replied: ‘It means a lot hearing these words. You are the love of my life. God does not make a mistake in this. I love you with all my heart.’
After the attack, Mark was rushed to Southmead Hospital in Bristol, and asked paramedics to ‘please check that my girlfriend is OK’ – fearing Wallace would target his new partner Violet Farquharson next.
Mr Vaitlingam said: ‘They could see Mark had severe burns – they said it looked as though he had had grey coloured paint poured over him and that the acid had burned through the top layer of skin. ‘He kept saying he couldn’t see and asked if he still had eyelids.’
Police arrived to find Wallace sitting on the sofa in the living room and noted there was a glass beer mug on the floor next to a piece of cloth and what appeared to be an artist’s paintbrush.
Mr Vaitlingam added: ‘The defendant was asked what the substance was that had injured Mark and she said “Acid. I was using to to distress some fabric” and indicated to the glass, cloth and paintbrush on the floor.’
A police officer who accompanied Mark in the ambulance recalled how he screamed in pain for the entire journey, and radioed ahead to ask for officers to visit Violet.
Emergency consultant Dr Rachel Oaten said Mark screamed ‘kill me now, if my face is left looking like this. I don’t want to live’ when he caught sight of himself in a mirror.
Mark was kept in an isolated ward in ICU for six months before being moved to a burns ward, spending a total of 14 months at Southmead.
The burns covered 25 per cent of his body and skin had to be surgically removed. Mark’s left leg was amputated below the knee and he lost the vision in his left eye and was partially sighted in his right eye.
He eventually regained speech but was permanently paralysed from the neck down.’ On November 22 last year, it was said Mark would require a ‘lifetime of constant and dedicated care’.
He then told his father he wanted to return to Belgium, and there it was confirmed he was paralysed for life and would have to take maximum doses of pain relief for the rest of his life.
He applied for euthanasia, which was approved after three consultants examined him. In a police interview Wallace claimed Mark assaulted her and she poured the liquid over him as a response to his aggression.
Mr Vaitlingam said: ‘She said it was he who had poured the acid into the glass, encouraging her to drink it with her tablets, but that she had not realised it was acid.
‘When she threw the contents of the glass over him, she believed it was water she was throwing.’
The trial continues.
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