'Jealous' lover accused of murder after 'throwing acid over ex'

Berlinah Wallace is accused of murdering Mark van Dongen (Picture: SWNS)
Berlinah Wallace is accused of murdering Mark van Dongen (Picture: SWNS)

A woman murdered her ex-boyfriend by pouring sulfuric acid over him, laughing: ‘if I can’t have you no-one can’, a court has heard.

Berlinah Wallace, 48, allegedly threw the corrosive substance in the face of Mark van Dongen which covered most of his body.

He suffered 25 percent burns and suffered such serious injuries that he was left paralysed and only able to move his tongue.

The 29 year old also lost a leg, his left eye and most of the sight in his right eye following the vicious attack, Bristol Crown Court has heard.

The civil engineer eventually chose to end his life by successfully applying for euthanasia some 15 months after the attack.

Wallace carried out the attack out of jealousy after she split with Mark and he began seeing another woman, the court was told.

Mark van Dongen took his own life in January (Picture: SWNS)
Mark van Dongen took his own life in January (Picture: SWNS)

In the weeks before, she even carried out internet searches including ‘can I die from drinking sulphuric acid?’ and searched for graphic images of acid attack victims.

Wallace, a fashion student, denies murder and applying a corrosive fluid after pouring the acid over Mark at 3am on September 23, 2015.

Prosecuting, Adam Vaitlingam QC, 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.’

The couple had a five-year relationship before splitting when Mark began seeing another woman in August 2015.

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After rekindling their romance, the pair chose to cook dinner together on the evening of the attack before Mark went out to see his new lover on the same evening.

He then returned to Wallace’s flat, where she tossed a glass of acid over him as he slept at 3am, while wearing just his boxer shorts, it is alleged.

He was rushed to Southmead Hospital in Bristol, and immediately asked paramedics to ‘please check that my girlfriend is OK’ – fearing Wallace would attack her 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.’

Berlinah Wallace has denied murdering mr Van Dongen (Picture: SWNS)
Berlinah Wallace has denied murdering mr Van Dongen (Picture: SWNS)

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.’

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.

He reportedly screamed ‘kill me now’ after catching sight of himself in a mirror for the first time, during a recovery process that saw the amputation of his left leg and the loss of vision in his left eye.

He eventually returned to his native Belgium, before his father helped him to successfully apply for euthanasia, taking his life on January 2, 2017.

In a police interview Wallace claimed Mark assaulted her and she poured the liquid over him as a response to his aggression.

‘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,’ Mr Vaitlingam added.

Defending, Richard Smith QC said: “It is Berlinah Wallace’s case that that evening as he had often done before, Mark had encouraged her to consider drinking the sulphuric acid they had bought for clearing the drains.”

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