NEWS
10/11/2017 16:57 GMT | Updated 10/11/2017 17:23 GMT

Acid Victim 'Begged Police For Help Weeks Before Attack That Left Him Blind And Paralysed'

His ex-girlfriend has been charged with murder.

An acid attack victim begged police for help just three weeks before his ex-girlfriend allegedly attacked him, a court heard on Friday.

Mark van Dongen made a frantic 999 call telling an operator “something needs to be done”. 

The 29-year-old accused ex-lover Berlinah Wallace, 48, of blackmail and also told a colleague she threatened to kill him if he left her. 

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Mark van Dongen died in a euthanasia clinic in January after suffering terrible injuries in an acid attack 

But the police officer who met van Dongen told him that Wallace was “pleading” and not harassing him. PC Katie Bettel saw him on 3 September, 2015, the day after his 999 call where he begged for “something to be done” to stop Wallace hounding him. 

He told an operator she was threatening to tell police he had downloaded child abuse images unless he met her and was making silent phone calls to his new girlfriend. He claimed Wallace was “blackmailing” him and suggested she needed to be sectioned after the end of their on-off five year relationship. 

PC Bettel told a jury she looked through his phone but did not perceive the text messages she saw to be threatening but of a “pleading nature”. She told Bristol Crown Court: “I wouldn’t have said that they were harassing.” 

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Berlinah Wallace denies murder 

She later visited Wallace to warn her to stop contacting van Dongen, and told her how police could trace the source of silent phone calls. She added: “She was particularly quiet at the beginning. 

“She just let me speak. I would normally expect someone to try and give their account but she was pretty much silent.” She advised Wallace to contact her GP with help for depression and to contact the Citizens Advice Bureau for advice on sorting out bills, which van Dongen had previously taken care of. 

Van Dongen’s colleague Colin Evans recalled being told that Wallace was violent and that he was “genuinely frightened” of her. He told the court he had seen scratch marks on van Dongen’s back when they were working on site together, and described his colleague as a “gentle giant.” 

He said van Dongen also disclosed some details of his relationship and accused Wallace of being abusive. Evans told the court: “He said he met through a dating site an African woman. 

“He came over and spent a night with her in Bristol and went back to his home country, the Netherlands. Then she phoned him and said she was pregnant. Being a decent guy he came back and moved in with her. 

“He told me that after a few weeks of coming into the country and moving in, she told him she had miscarried. He said he was scared of her. She was violent and he no longer loved her. 

“He used to say that she was abusive to him and on one particular occasion he pulled up his top and showed me various marks on his back.” 

Evans described ten or 12 scratch marks, about four inches in length. 

Wallace is accused of throwing sulphuric acid at van Dongen as he lay in bed at his Bristol flat. 

Horrified witnesses said it looked as though clay had been poured over his body and he was left paralysed, unrecognisable and nearly blind. 

Van Dongen later died by euthanasia after telling his family his life was no longer worth living. Wallace is accused of murdering him. 

Fire experts said bedding at the scene of the attack had been “blackened” by corrosive fluid. Jeanette Morris recalled seeing a glass tankard on the floor with a small amount of clear liquid in it, and “a pair of jeans laid out on a towel that looked like they had been acid washed.” 

She said: “There were signs in the bedroom of quite a lot of blackening on the bedding which was a sign of corrosive liquid. We used PH papers to test the bedding, the liquid in the bottle that was on the table and the glass that was on the floor. 

“It was a highly acidic PH of 0-1 so very acidic. There was a couple of other splashes at the entrance to the bathroom of the same sort of substance.” 

Paramedic Dean Carter said in a statement he knew there was “nothing they could do at the scene” to help Mark, and gave him gas and air to alleviate the pain until he could be taken to hospital. 

“I clearly heard him tell a police officer that his ex-partner poured acid over him,” he said. 

South African-born Wallace denies charges of murder and throwing a corrosive fluid with the intention to burn, maim, disfigure, disable or do GBH. 

The trial was adjourned until Monday.