Arthur Collins, Towie star Ferne McCann's ex, winks as he's jailed for acid attack

Philip Whiteside, News Reporter

An ex-boyfriend of The Only Way Is Essex star Ferne McCann has been sentenced to 25 years for an acid attack on clubbers.

Arthur Collins was convicted in November of spraying the caustic substance in a packed nightclub on 17 April.

He has been told he will spend 20 years in jail with a further five years spent on licence.

At least 22 people reported injuries after the attack, although only 14 were the subject of the charges against him.

Three of the 16 who suffered chemical burns were temporarily blinded and many told Wood Green Crown Court how their injuries had affected their lives.

After Judge Noel Lucas described it as "a deliberate and calculated attack", Collins winked to his family as he was led to cells.

Judge Lucas said: "[His defence] from first to last was carefully researched and choreographed in order to explain away the evidence against him.

"It shows him to be an accomplished and calculated liar. It shows someone who has shown not a shred of remorse for his actions."

The court heard the 25-year-old had once threatened a similar attack on an ex-girlfriend's mother.

At his sentencing hearing on Tuesday, the court was told Collins received a caution for racially aggravated harassment for ringing the woman in the middle of the night and threatening her with an acid attack and to have her raped.

After that threat, he was handed a caution after apologising and saying he had done it "out of frustration".

He had a total of six previous convictions for using threatening words, possession of cocaine, drunk driving and assault.

For punching a man in a nightclub on 28 December, 2015, he was handed a six-month sentence suspended for 12 months at Woolwich Crown Court.

Collins, of Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, was still subject to the suspended sentence when he carried out the attack at Mangle club in London Fields, east London.

Three of Collins' victims took to the witness stand to read their victim impact statements, but the judge's sentencing remarks were delayed as his defence team produced a dossier which they said showed social media posts apparently proving the victims' lives had returned to some kind of normality.

The judge was shown images of some of the women in swimsuits on holiday and out in nightclubs.

One of the young women, Phoebe Georgiou, 23, said she had lay in a hospital bed for weeks after the attack without being able to move for fear of rupturing her scars.

"I have been given a life sentence by you," she told Collins.

Lauren Trent said: "You don't know what it feels like to have acid thrown at you. To feel your skin dissolving, melting, blistering and you can't do anything to stop it."

Sophie Hall, 22, added: "I fell off the back of my chair backwards from the pain from my face.

"I was in terrible pain. I couldn't see properly. I was crying. I was sat on the floor for what felt like an eternity."

At his trial, Collins admitted throwing the bottle of fluid over clubbers but said he thought it was a date rape drug which he had snatched from two men.

He said he had been at the club to celebrate the news of Ms McCann's pregnancy, which they had announced to her family the previous day.

After Collins was convicted, reality TV star Ms McCann, who had by that point given birth to the baby, released a statement saying she would raise the child "alone".

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