(New York Post) – Berlinah Wallace: Jilted Woman Accused of Murder: A scorned woman murdered her ex-boyfriend by pouring sulfuric acid over him and laughed, “If I can’t have you, no one can,” a court heard Wednesday.
Berlinah Wallace, 48, threw the corrosive substance in the face of Mark van Dongen at 3 a.m. Sept. 23, 2015, and it ended up covering most of his body.
Twenty-five percent of his body was covered in burns and he suffered such serious injuries that he was left paralyzed. In fact, he could only move his tongue.
Van Dongen, 29, lost a leg, his left eye and most of the sight in his right eye following the sulphuric acid attack, Bristol Crown Court heard. Bristol is in Southwest England, about 115 miles from London.
Civil engineer van Dongen was left wanting to end his life and eventually successfully applied for euthanasia and died 15 months after the attack.
Berlinah Wallace carried out the attack out of jealousy after the couple split up and van Dongen began seeing another woman, the court in Bristol was told.
In the weeks before the attack, Wallace carried out internet searches including “can I die from drinking sulphuric acid?” and searched for graphic images of acid attack victims.
Fashion student Wallace denies the murder and applying-a-corrosive-fluid charges.
Prosecutor Adam Vaitlingam said: “The defendant had bought a bottle of sulfuric acid, which she bought online from Amazon.”
“At around 3 a.m., 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 sulfuric acid into his face.”
“It covered his face and parts of his upper body and dripped onto his lower body as he moved.”
“Covered in burning acid, Mark ran out into the street in his boxer shorts, screaming for help.”
The court heard how the couple had a five-year relationship and lived together, but they hit the rocks when van Dongen began seeing another woman in August 2015.
Shortly before his death, van Dongen, a Dutch national, told colleagues Wallace had been violent toward him, and he “seemed genuinely scared.”
The couple appeared to rekindle their romance, exchanging loving messages promising to try to make the relationship work again on Sept. 22, the day before the attack.
Van Dongen sent Wallace a message saying: “I love you, I always have. I’m truly sorry for what I’ve done, we need to work on our relationship.”
“You and me are meant to be. I’ve always known that. I will treat you as you deserve to be treated. You are my princess.”
Wallace replied: “It means a lot hearing these words. You are the love of my life. God does not make a mistake in this. I love you with all my heart.”
The couple planned to cook dinner together when van Dongen returned from work, but that evening he went out to see his new girlfriend, Violet Farquharson, the court heard.
Wallace and van Dongen argued when he returned to Wallace’s apartment in Bristol at 10 p.m. and she told him she would stay in a hotel that night, the court heard.
But at 3 a.m., Wallace returned to the apartment and tossed a glass of acid over van Dongen, who was lying in bed wearing just his boxer shorts, it is alleged.
In the street, horrified neighbors took him into an apartment and got him to stand under a shower on the advice of paramedics.
Van Dongen was rushed to Southmead Hospital in Bristol, and asked paramedics to “please check that my girlfriend is OK” because he feared that Wallace would target Farquharson next.
Vaitlingam said: “They could see Mark had severe burns — they said it looked as though he had had gray-colored 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.”
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.
Vaitlingam added: “The defendant was asked what the substance was that had injured Mark and she said, ‘Acid. I was using it to distress some fabric,’ and indicated to the glass, cloth and paintbrush on the floor.”
A police officer who accompanied van Dongen in the ambulance recalled how he screamed in pain for the entire journey, and radioed ahead to ask for officers to visit Farquharson.
Emergency consultant Dr. Rachel Oaten said van Dongen screamed, “Kill me now, if my face is left looking like this. I don’t want to live,” when he caught sight of himself in a mirror.
Van Dongen 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.
The burns covered 25 percent of his body and skin had to be surgically removed.
Van Dongen’s left leg was amputated below the knee and he lost the vision in his left eye and was partially sighted in his right eye.
He eventually regained speech but was permanently paralyzed from the neck down.
Van Dongen fell into a deep depression. Vaitlingam said: “Sometimes he said he wanted to live, at other times that he wanted to die.”
On Nov. 22, 2016, a care home in Gloucester — a city just north of Bristol — was found and it was understood van Dongen would require a “lifetime of constant and dedicated care.”
He told his father he wanted to return to Belgium and his father hired an ambulance to take him to the Maria Hospital in Overpelt, a small town near the Belgium-Netherlands border.
Doctors there confirmed he was paralyzed for life.
He applied for euthanasia, which was approved after three consultants examined him. Euthanasia is legal in Belgium.
It was decided this was a case of “unbearable physical and psychological suffering,” and van Dongen’s life was taken on Jan. 2, 2017.
In a police interview, Wallace claimed van Dongen 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 pills, but that she had not realized it was acid,” Vaitlingam added.
“When she threw the contents of the glass over him, she believed it was water she was throwing.”
The court heard both Berlinah Wallace and van Dongen were HIV-positive.
The defense said: “It is Berlinah Wallace’s case that that evening as he had often done before, Mark had encouraged her to consider drinking the sulfuric acid they had bought for clearing the drains.”