The father of a man who was driven to suicide after his ex-girlfriend threw acid at him has slammed the sentence given to his attacker.
Berlinah Wallace threw 98% concentration sulphuric acid over Mark van Dongen as he slept in her flat in Bristol in 2015. He died by euthanasia at a hospital in Belgium in 2017. Wallace was today ordered to serve at least 12 years behind bars following her acquittal for murder in a unique court case – but the victim’s father insisted the sentence was too short.
Mr van Dongen’s father Cornelius said outside court: ‘I am very pleased she is going to be locked up for twelve years, but really this is too little, as we as a family have been sentenced for life.
‘This has completely ruined our lives – financially and as a family. Our home has fallen apart.
‘I hope she messes up in prison and never qualifies for parole, and never comes out.’
Fashion student Wallace, 48, screamed ‘if I can’t have you, no one else can’ as she carried out the attack in September 2015.Fashion student Wallace, 48, screamed ‘if I can’t have you, no one else can’ as she carried out the attack in September 2015. Mr van Dongen, 29, was left in a coma for four months, suffered extensive burns to his body, was left blind in one eye, paralysed from the neck down and had to have his lower left leg amputated. He later chose to end his life.
Mrs Justice Nicola Davies, who jailed Wallace for life with a minimum term of 12 years at Bristol Crown Court, told Wallace: ‘Your intention was to burn, disfigure and disable Mark van Dongen so that he would not be attractive to any other woman.’It was an act of pure evil.’Wallace was acquitted of murder but convicted of throwing a corrosive substance with intent following a four-week trial. Mark van Dongen was left in excruciating pain and had a leg removed, as well as losing an eye, after he was doused in acid by his former girlfriend +5Mark van Dongen was left in excruciating pain and had a leg removed, as well as losing an eye, after he was doused in acid by his former girlfriendThe court heard that Wallace laughed as she carried out the attack and she told her ex: ‘If I can’t have you, no-one else can.’Jailing Wallace today, the judge said: ‘You chose your moment for the attack.’It occurred when Mark van Dongen, wearing only boxer shorts, was asleep in the bed which you had shared in your flat.’Vulnerable, almost naked, he awoke but had no real opportunity to avoid the focus of your acid attack, namely his face and then his body.’Immediately before you threw the acid you said to Mark, ‘If I can’t have you, no-one can’.’The judge said Wallace had bought the 98% concentration sulphuric acid to ‘attack’ Mr van Dongen, an engineer, because he had left her for another woman.Following the trial, Mr Van Dogen’s father, Cornelius, spoke of his horror after the trial in which he had to listen to his son’s ‘horrendous screams’ in a 999 call which was played to court.
He also told how how it took authorities ten days to track him down to tell him of his son’s condition.Mr Van Dogen spent ‘days’ rubbing his son down because of the excruciating itching and pain. The young engineer also remembered having his leg amputated saying he felt he was being sliced ‘like a loaf of bread’.Addressing Mark van Dongen’s father today, Judge Davies said: ‘You have attended every day of this trial – a difficult and distressing experience for you.’No words of mine will ease your pain. But may I thank you for the dignity you have brought to these proceedings, and offer condolences to yourself and your family upon the loss of your son.’After moving to Belgium and being placed on a palliative care ward, Mark made the decision to take his own life, because he was ‘tired of fighting’, the court had heard.Mr van Dongen’s family have a JustGiving page.