British woman gets life in prison for throwing acid on Dutch man

Lady Justice (Picture: Twitter/@danvelton). (Lady Justice (Picture: Twitter/@danvelton))

On Wednesday the court in Bristol sentenced 48-year-old Berlinah Wallace to life in prison for pouring acid over her ex-boyfriend, Mark van Dongen from Rijsbergen, in September 2015. Wallace will be eligible for early release after 12 years in prison, AD reports. 

Van Dongen was living in Bristol, Great Britain, and working as an engineer at the time of the attack. In September 2015 he went to Wallace's flat to end their relationship. He spent the night there. While he was sleeping in bed, Wallace poured a glass of acid over his face and body. Van Dongen sustained serious burns. He was partially paralyzed and barely able to see and communicate. After 15 months of constant physical and psychological suffering, the then 29-year-old man opted for euthanasia in January 2017. 

According to the judge, Wallace wanted to burn and mutilate Van Dognen so that no other woman would find him attractive. She did nothing to help Van Dongen while he was creaming in pain after the attack. The judge called her manipulative and dangerous and ruled that the attack was premeditated. She was acquitted of murder and manslaughter, but found guilty of pouring acid over Van Dognen. 

During the trial, Wallace told the jury that she thought there was water in the glass that she poured over Van Dongen. Earlier, however, she admitted that she bought acid. According to the Bristol Post, Wallace visited dozens of websites about acid attacks and bought around £10 worth of sulfuric acid online. Wallace also stated that she had a tough childhood in South Africa. 

After the sentencing, Mark's father Kees van Dognen said that he is disappointed that Wallace was acquitted of killing his son and that she will be eligible for early release after 12 years. "I am pleased the judge saw the facts for what they were - but there are only losers in this case. I am very pleased that she is going to be locked up for 12 years, but really this is too little, as we as family have been sentenced for life", he said outside the court, according to Bristol Post. "This has completely ruined our lives - financially an as a family. Our home has fallen apart. I hope we can start to pick up the pieces and rebuild."