Berlinah Wallace Found Guilty Of Bristol Acid Attack

17 May 2018, 15:14

Acid attack

A woman whose ex-boyfriend took his own life by euthanasia has been found guilty of throwing acid over him.

Berlinah Wallace threw a glass of 98% proof sulphuric acid over Mark van Dongen saying “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 covering large areas of his body, was left blind in one eye and partially sighted in the other, paralysed from the neck down and had to have part of his left leg amputated after developing an infection.

He spent more than a year in hospital before being discharged into a residential care home and was later taken to Belgium where his life was ended by euthanasia.

A trial at Bristol Crown Court heard his application for assisted suicide was authorised by the courts in Belgium which recognised his “unbearable physical and psychological suffering”.

The jury found Wallace was guilty of throwing a corrosive substance with intent but that her actions did not amount to murder.

Detective Inspector Paul Catton, the Senior Investigating Officer, said: “Mark van Dongen suffered the most inconceivable pain imaginable following what was a cowardly attack borne out of jealousy.

“He went from being a healthy young man with his whole life ahead of him to having extensive and repeated surgery on the most hideous injuries just to keep him alive.

“In the end, his pain was so devastating, so catastrophic, he sought the assistance of doctors to help him die.

“While the jury has concluded Wallace’s actions did not amount to murder, we felt it was the right thing to do to ask them to consider the charge based on the evidence.

“Wallace is undoubtedly a manipulative individual who abused Mark throughout their relationship.

“She repeatedly threatened him when they were together and even assaulted herself – claiming she would report that her injuries were caused by his hand.

“In my view, it takes an unbelievably callous person to show absolutely no empathy or remorse for the level of suffering she caused.”

DI Catton added: “Acid attacks can have a devastating effect on people’s lives. Many victims are severely disfigured, experience depression and are effectively condemned to a life sentence of trauma.

“This case, however, is evidence of the most serious consequences.

“This investigation has been one of the most harrowing I have been involved in in all my years as a detective and it’s impossible to imagine the impact it has had on Mark’s family and friends.

“We have supported his family throughout what has been a horrendous ordeal for them and the thoughts of every officer involved in the investigation continue to be with them.

“I hope now, following the conclusion of the trial, they have some sense of closure.”

A Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) will now look at the circumstances which led up to Mr van Dongen’s death. DHRs are routinely carried out when someone dies as a result of violence, abuse or neglect by a relative, household member or someone they’ve been in an intimate relationship with.