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Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Acid attacker Berlinah Wallace branded 'pure evil' as she is jailed for 12 years

Written by Claire Hayhurst

A fashion student who poured sulphuric acid over her former partner's face after he left her for another woman has been jailed for at least 12 years.

Berlinah Wallace, 48, purchased a bottle of 98% concentration sulphuric acid and viewed 82 websites about it - including post-mortem images - after Mark van Dongen said their relationship was over.

Wallace (pictured) threw the liquid over the engineer as he slept in bed at her flat in Westbury Park, Bristol, in September 2015, and laughed as she told him: "If I can't have you, no-one else can."

The 29-year-old was left in a coma for four months, suffered extensive burns to his body, was left blind in one eye, paralysed from the neck down and had to have his lower left leg amputated. He died by euthanasia at a hospital in Belgium on January 2 2017.

Mrs Justice Nicola Davies, who jailed Wallace for life with a minimum term of 12 years at Bristol Crown Court on Wednesday, told the South African: "Your intention was to burn, disfigure and disable Mark van Dongen so that he would not be attractive to any other woman.

"It was an act of pure evil."

The judge told Wallace: "You chose your moment for the attack.

"It occurred when Mark van Dongen, wearing only boxer shorts, was asleep in the bed which you had shared in your flat.

"Vulnerable, almost naked, he awoke but had no real opportunity to avoid the focus of your acid attack, namely his face and then his body.

"Immediately before you threw the acid you said to Mark, 'If I can't have you, no-one can'."

The judge said Wallace had bought the 98% concentration sulphuric acid to "attack" Mr van Dongen, an engineer, because he had left her for another woman.

The judge told Wallace: "Having carried out this horrific attack you then told lie after lie.

"When interviewed by the police you sought to place the blame upon Mark van Dongen, falsely alleging that he had poured the acid into the glass on your bedside table intending that you should drink it.

"It was an account which you gave in September 2015 and maintained throughout this trial.

"Not only did you make this wholly false accusation to the police and throughout your trial, you further sought to destroy the name and character of Mark van Dongen, alleging that he was the abuser in your relationship.

"Mark van Dongen is no longer alive. He was unable to defend himself against any of your accusations."

However, the judge said she accepted the evidence of Mr van Dongen's colleagues and father, who said the engineer was scared of Wallace.

"He was right to be so because he had some idea of what you were capable of," she told Wallace.

Wallace was acquitted of murder but convicted of throwing a corrosive substance with intent following a four-week trial.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Somerset Police / PA Wire.