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 acid attacks – including post-mortem images – after Mark van Dongen said their relationship was over.
Wallace threw the liquid over the engineer as he slept in bed at her flat in 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.
Berlinah Wallace was cleared of murder in a landmark trial after her ex-boyfriend died by euthanasia after she doused him in acid
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.’
Wallace was acquitted of murder but convicted of throwing a corrosive substance with intent following a four-week trial.
Mark van Dongen was left in excruciating pain and had a leg removed, as well as losing an eye, after he was doused in acid by his former girlfriend
The court heard that Wallace laughed as she carried out the attack and she told her ex: ‘If I can’t have you, no-one else can.’
Mr Van Dogen’s father revealed how he had to listen to his son’s ‘horrendous screams’ in court as the 999 call was played.
He also spoke of how it took authorities ten days to track him down to tell him of his son’s condition.
Mr Van Dogen spent ‘days’ rubbing his son down because of the excruciating itching and pain. The young engineer also remembered having his leg amputated saying he felt he was being sliced ‘like a loaf of bread’.
After moving to Belgium and being placed on a palliative care ward, Mark made the decision to take his own life, because he was ‘tired of fighting’.
Mr van Dongen’s family have a JustGiving page.
The scene where Mark Van Dongen was found after an acid attack. Mark was sleeping when his ex attacked him in his bed
Number 1a Ladysmith road, Bristol, the property where Berlinah Wallace, 48, threw acid at Mark van Dongen