A jilted woman’s decision to destroy her ex-boyfriend by pouring acid over him – leaving him in such pain and disfigurement that he chose to die through euthanasia -- has been handed a life sentence in jail.
A judge in England sentenced Berlinah Wallace to life in prison with eligibility for parole after a minimum of 12 years, according to published reports.
She was found guilty by a Bristol court of throwing a corrosive substance with intent to harm her ex-boyfriend, Mark van Dongen, in 2015. She was cleared of murder charges.
Van Dongen had gone to Wallace’s apartment, at her insistence, to put an end to their on-again-off-again relationship of five years, and to tell her that he was moving in with a new girlfriend.
But Wallace was bent on revenge, deciding that if she couldn’t be with him, no one would, according to Sky News.
She threw 98 percent sulfuric acid on van Dongen, laughing as she did it, reports say. Prior to the attack, police said, Wallace had conducted a Google search on acid attacks.
He looked like he was covered in a clay sort of mud, which I later realized was his skin melting.
Neighbors of Wallace said that van Dongen ran out of the apartment screaming for help.
“I looked out of the window and there was a guy standing there in his boxer shorts and he looked a really odd color from his head down to his shoulders,” Nic White testified, according to Sky News. “He looked like he was covered in a clay sort of mud, which I later realized was his skin melting.”
Judge Nicola Davies called the attack “an act of pure evil” and described Wallace as a danger to others.
“Your intention was to burn, disfigure and disable Mark van Dongen so that he would not be attractive to any other woman,” the judge said.
A worker who decontaminated van Dongen when he arrived at a hospital after the attack said the victim unleashed a bloodcurdling scream when he saw his reflection.
“He said: ‘Kill me now,’” the healthcare worker told The Sun. “‘If my face is going to be left looking like this I don’t want to live.’”
The attack left van Dongen partially blind and paralyzed from the neck down. He also lost a leg to amputation, suffered several septic chest infections, became unable to move his arms and suffered chronic pain and itching.
He was transferred to a hospital in Belgium, where his father lived, and which allows assisted suicide.
He knew he'd lose his voice. So what would he have left? Just pain and itching and another ceiling to stare at all day long.
Van Dongen was found eligible for euthanasia by a panel of three doctors who concluded that he lived with “unbearable physical and psychological suffering.” He ended his life in January 2017, more than a year after the attack.
“He knew he’d lose his voice,” his father told Sky News. “So what would he have left? Just pain and itching and another ceiling to stare at all day long.”
The life sentence for Wallace left the elder van Dongen ambivalent.
“I am very pleased she is going to be locked up for 12 years, but really this is too little, as we as a family have been sentenced for life. I hope she messes up and doesn’t ever come out of prison again,” Kees van Dongen said, according to the Guardian.
“There are only losers in this case. This has completely ruined our lives – financially and as a family. Our home has fallen apart. I hope we can start to pick up the pieces and rebuild.”