A man allegedly murdered in an acid attack by his ex-girlfriend, had planned to move out of her flat just two weeks before, a court heard on Monday.
Mark van Dongen, 29, told another woman he had started seeing that Berlinah Wallace, 48, had hacked into his emails and he was moving into a hotel.
Wallace is accused of throwing sulfuric acid in van Dongen’s face causing such serious injuries he opted to die in a euthanasia clinic 15 months later.
South African-born Wallace denies charges of murder and throwing a corrosive fluid with the intention to burn, maim, disfigure, disable or commit GBH.
Prosecutors claim Wallace carried out the attack out of jealousy after her ex-lover began seeing another woman, Violet Farquharson.
Farquharson told Bristol Crown Court she “wasn’t best pleased” when she found out he was already in a relationship when they met.
She said she met van Dongen on a dating website around the end of July 2015 - less than two months before the attack.
Farquharson said that she and van Dongen exchanged messages on the dating site and later swapped numbers and texted each other.
But during that time he never mentioned his relationship, she told the court.
It was not until the pair met up for coffee in August 2015 that van Dongen came clean about his relationship - complaining Wallace was “controlling”, it was said.
Giving evidence from behind a curtain Farquharson said: “I wasn’t best pleased to find out he was in a relationship.
“We had spoken about the importance of integrity as a human being. I made it very clear I wasn’t prepared to have a relationship with him if he was still with his girlfriend.”
She added: “He said that he would like to have some hobbies, but that she was very controlling over him. He mentioned some work colleagues, but none that he would see outside of work.”
She said at their first face-to-face meeting for coffee the pair seemed to have a few things in common and he suggested going to the cinema later in the week.
But in text messages exchanged between the pair later that week, van Dongen appeared to change his mind after having an argument with Wallace.
On August 15 he had texted Farquharson saying Wallace had moved out of their shared home to stay in a hotel, and that he had a week to find a new flat.
But the following day he said that Wallace has returned home and they had “talked all night” - and he seemed to call things off with Farquharson.
He wrote: “Hi Vi, I’m really sorry. I think you’re an amazing person, you’ve really opened my eyes.
“She came back last night and we talked all night. I’m not a person who cheats or has affairs. I’m really sorry for dragging you into my problems. You don’t deserve that.”
He added that Farquharson would always have “a special place in my heart”.
But later that same day, he texted her again saying he “couldn’t stop thinking about her” - and telling her that he was HIV positive.
He wrote: “I didn’t know how to tell you, so I took the easy way out. I’m too weak and afraid to be alone.”
Four days later, on August 20, he warned her that Wallace had allegedly hacked into his email, and not to send any messages to that address anymore.
He wrote: “She hacked my email last night. Please don’t send anything to that email anymore. Going to stay in a hotel from now on.”
Van Dongen was attacked weeks later on 3 September, 2015.
The case continues.