Ferne McCann’s ex-boyfriend Arthur Collins jailed for 20 years for nightclub acid attack

The ex-boyfriend of reality TV-star Ferne McCann has been jailed for 20 years after carrying out a brutal acid attack in a packed nightclub.

Arthur Collins, 25, hurled the corrosive substance over a crowd on the dancefloor at Mangle E8 in what Judge Noel Lucas said was "a despicable act".

Sixteen people suffered chemical burn injuries and three people were temporarily blinded - one of whom still suffers from blurred vision in one eye - of which 14 were the subject of charges.

Collins, the father of Ms McCann’s baby daughter Sunday, had told his trial he did not know the bottle contained acid, believing it to contain a liquid date rape drug, which he had snatched from two men after overhearing them planning to spike a girl’s drink.

But the jury at London’s Wood Green Crown Court convicted him of five counts of grievous bodily harm with intent and nine counts of actual bodily harm last month.

Judge Lucas ordered that as well as his 20-year prison term Collins, of Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, will additionally be subject to five further years on extended licence.

He branded Collins "an accomplished and calculated liar" who had shown "not a shred of remorse", telling him: "This was a despicable act.

"You knew precisely what strong acid would do to human skin.

"Having thrown the acid over the club you slunk away and hid in the rear and pretended to be nothing to do with the mayhem you had caused."

"In my judgement it was deliberate and calculated and you were intent on causing really serious harm to your victims."

He continued: "He threw [the acid] on three occasions irrespective of the persons on whom it landed.

"His motivations for such a vicious course of conduct was nothing more than a perceived personal slight."

Arthur Collins. Photo: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire

Collins looked pale but did not react as his sentence was read out, and winked at his family as he was led to the cells.

There were cries of "love you Arthur" as he was taken away.

Twenty-two people reported injuries to the police after the acid attack at the club in Dalston, east London, on April 17, which was packed with bank holiday revellers.

Collins told his trial he had been out celebrating the news of Ms McCann’s pregnancy, which they had announced to her family the previous day.

CCTV showed him and co-defendant Andre Phoenix, 21, arriving at the club at about 9pm before getting into a confrontation with a group of men about four hours later.

At about 1am people could be seen clutching their faces and running off the dancefloor after Collins douses them with a liquid.

Clubbers dropped to their knees, shielded their faces with clothing, and rubbed ice on blistered skin.

Victims described a burning smell and their skin "blistering straight away" before everyone started "screaming, shouting, running".

Collins and Phoenix were identified from the CCTV footage, in which Collins could be seen wearing a T-shirt with the word "candy killer" written on it.

Phoenix, of Tottenham, north London, was arrested on April 21 but Collins went on the run and was not apprehended until several days later hiding out in a house in Higham Ferrers, Northants.

Phoenix, a semi-professional cage fighter, was acquitted of four counts of grievous bodily harm and two of actual bodily harm after trial.

He had said if he had a problem with someone he would just "knock them out" and insisted: "I would never roll with acid."

He was among Collins’ friends and family seated in the public gallery to watch him be sentenced.

At his sentencing hearing on Tuesday, the court heard Collins had threatened a similar attack on a former partner’s mother.

He 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.

He has six previous convictions including threatening words, possession of cocaine, drunk driving and assault.

He was still subject to a suspended sentence for punching a man at a nightclub when he carried out the attack at Mangle.

Three of Collins’ victims - Phoebe Georgiou, 23, Lauren Trent and Sophie Hall, both 22 - told the court how the attack had changed their lives and left them living in fear.

But defence lawyer George Carter-Stephenson QC produced posts taken from victims’ social media accounts apparently showing their lives had returned to some kind of normality.

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

Mr Carter-Stephenson said: "What I want you to do is simply appreciate that there has to be balance and to a certain extent they have returned to some normality following this.

"These victim personal statements give the impression that this has been all prevailing and has pervaded into every area of their lives and that’s simply not correct."

The court heard that Collins had a lease on a Mercedes jeep despite being subject to a driving ban and owing £7,000 on his credit cards.

He said he had no assets to pay compensation to his victims, but Judge Lucas asked how he had been able to afford two hair transplants at a Harley Street clinic, remarking: "I suspect it wasn’t paid for by the NHS."

Victims of acid attack confront Collins in court with stories of their injuries

Jailed acid attacker Arthur Collins was confronted by his victims in court as they told of their horrific injuries.

Some 22 clubbers reported injuries to police when acid was thrown over the dance floor, while a total of 16 people suffered chemical burn injuries - although only 14 people were the subject of charges.

Three victims were temporarily blinded - one of whom still suffers from blurred vision in one eye.

Collins’ denials forced those who suffered at his hands to relive the experience as they were called to give evidence at his Wood Green Crown Court trial.

Kwami Licorish told jurors: "I was on the dance floor with a few friends and I remember feeling a splash to my face, my eyes were burning, my face was burning.

"There was a very strong smell, an overpowering smell. It stopped my breathing."

Daniel Mills, who was waiting at the bar to get a drink, was sprayed in the face after turning his head.

He said: "I sort of heard something out of character that made me turn, I think it was people shouting.

"As I turned around, the substance hit me in the face. It started stinging and burning."

Jay Lanning said he saw Collins raise his arm as if to throw a punch before "white smoke" filled the air.

At first I felt a liquid I thought was ice-cold water. It was a sharp sensation to both of my arms and then I felt it on my face as well," he said.

"Maybe 30 seconds later I realised it was more of a burning sensation."

Describing injuries to her arm, Megan Usher said: "It was kind of bubbly. Red, very red."

Nadia Pascal described painful "white streaks" running down the back of her exposed legs after the acid was hurled.

Three of Collins’ victims took to the witness stand to read their victim impact statements when Collins returned to court to be sentenced.

Phoebe Georgiou, 23, described lying in a hospital bed for weeks after the attack without being able to move for fear of rupturing her scars.

"You couldn’t find a shred of human decency to admit what you have done. I have been given a life sentence by you," she said.

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."

She added: "Imagine that was your own daughter on her 22nd birthday and you are stuck two hours away in your home town knowing there was nothing you could do but listen as she’s screaming that her skin’s coming off in her hands."

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

She continued: "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.

"I am scarred for the rest of my life and I’m only 22 years of age and I was just having fun with my friends and my whole world has been turned upside down."


 

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