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Acid attack victim scarred for life by ‘devil’ ex Berlinah Wallace


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AN acid attack victim who killed himself after being scarred by his "devil" ex left a haunting last message blaming her for his death.

Jealous former partner Berlinah Wallace, 48, was yesterday cleared of murder but found guilty of throwing a corrosive substance with intent.

She faces life behind bars after attacking defenceless 29-year-old Mark van Dongen leaving him with "hellish" injuries that were so painful he decided to take his own life at an assisted suicide clinic last January.

Addressing Wallace in a clip taken a day before he died Mr van Dongen told her: "I hope you can see the way I look now."

The civil engineer added: "This is because of you. It will be a thing upon your conscience for now and forever.

"You stood at the end of my bed and you said: 'If I can't have you no one can'.

He added: "And then you laughed, you evil woman, you laughed. And you threw sulphuric acid over me."

Mr van Dongen lost a leg, his left eye and most of the sight in his right eye. He spent 14 months in hospital before moving to a care home.

The next month he travelled to the Belgian euthanasia clinic and took his life after consultants agreed his was a case of "unbearable suffering".

Mr van Dongen had by then given police a video interview from his hospital bed about his ordeal. It was to be among his final acts.

His testimony - presented from beyond the grave during her trial for murder - was crucial in securing her conviction at Bristol Crown Court.

He said obsessive Wallace would injure herself during their relationship and threaten to claim he had done it to stop him leaving.

Mr van Dongen went on to tell how he went to Wallace's flat in Bristol on the night of the attack in September 2015 because he felt sorry for her.

At around 3am he woke to find Wallace, 48, in the room where he was asleep.

He said: "She woke me up and she said that 'if I can't have you, no-one can'.

"She laughed and just threw the acid. It was a square box of acid with about an inch of acid in it."

The Dutch-born graduate said the acid hit him on "my arm and my face, then my chest".

He went on: "It was burning like fire.

"I was running in the street in my boxer shorts. They fell apart because the acid had eaten them away.

"I met my upstairs neighbour and she took me in her house and she got the police."

Asked why Wallace had attacked him he simply replied: "Because she was jealous. Because I left her."

Mr van Dongen was rushed to hospital in agony and told cops in the back of the ambulance: "She needs to go to prison for this."

His injuries were so horrific he was unable to communicate again for a number of months.

Even then he could only do so by sticking his tongue out when his dad, Cornelius van Dongen, went through the alphabet.

Wallace would later insist Mr van Dongen was trying to win her back at the time - but her claims were exposed as self-serving lies by a series of emails.

In one of them, sent just days before the attack, she begged him not to leave her and said her ex, Ray Wallace, had suffered a heart attack.

She wrote: "Please call me. Don't abandon me like this. You are all I have.

Ray has had heart attack. In critical shape."

But in reality all she wanted was revenge.

She was fascinated by acid attacks and viewed more than 40 websites about the substance in the lead-up to the assault, the court was told.

She then bought the acid online before luring her ex to the flat.

Mr van Dongen branded Wallace "the devil personified".

Outside court he said: "Mark was so brave when confronted with the hellish pain and disabilities inflicted upon him but eventually it became too much for him to bear.

"He died in dignity and will live on in the hearts of his family and friends."

He said he was disappointed Wallace, who will be sentenced on Wednesday, had been cleared of murder but added: "There are only losers in this case. I hope that Mark can now rest in peace."

Detective Inspector Paul Catton defended the decision to charge Wallace with murder - adding: "We felt it was the right thing to do to ask them to consider the charge based on the evidence."

New legislation being introduced later this year will prevent anyone buying acid online without a valid licence.

Those caught in possession without one will face at least six months in jail.

It comes after a rise in the number of acid attacks.

Police figures show there were 408 attacks using corrosive substances between November 2016 and April last year.

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