NEWS
17/05/2018 14:48 BST | Updated 17/05/2018 18:03 BST

Berlinah Wallace Acquitted Of Murdering Boyfriend Mark Van Dongen In Acid Trial

Mark van Dongen died at a euthanasia clinic after the attack.

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Berlinah Wallace denied charges of murder and throwing a corrosive fluid with the intention to burn, maim, disfigure, disable or commit GBH

A woman accused of murder when her ex-partner died by euthanasia after she threw acid over him has been found not guilty.

Berlinah Wallace, 48, was acquitted of murdering Mark Van Dongen, who was left partially blinded and paralysed after the attack in September 2015. 

The Dutch-born civil engineer suffered 15 months of intense pain before taking his own life at a euthanasia clinic in Belgium on January 2, 2017. 

Wallace was found guilty of throwing a corrosive substance with intent at Bristol Crown Court on Thursday.

His father said there were “only losers in this case” and that he hoped his son “can now rest in peace”.

The jury heard Van Dongen had lost the sight in his left eye and most of the sight in his right eye; his lower left leg, which was amputated; was confined to a hospital bed and was unable to move anything other than his tongue for many months. 

The jury heard that while his physical condition improved a little – he regained the power of speech – he was left paralysed from the neck down. Wallace claimed she thought she was throwing a glass of water over van Dongen.

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Mark van Dongen took his own life at a euthanasia clinic in Belgium on January 2, 2017

A jury of 10 men and two women acquitted Wallace of Van Dongen’s murder or manslaughter, but found her guilty of throwing a corrosive substance with intent.

The unanimous verdict was delivered on Thursday afternoon following 15 hours and 30 minutes of deliberations.

Mrs Justice Nicola Davies adjourned sentencing until next week due to the “extremely serious nature” of the offence.

She will hear submissions from prosecution and defence teams on Tuesday and pass sentence on Wednesday.

Detective Inspector Paul Catton of Avon and Somerset Police said: “Mark van Dongen suffered the most inconceivable pain imaginable following what was a cowardly attack borne out of jealousy.

“He went from being a healthy young man with his whole life ahead of him to having extensive and repeated surgery on the most hideous injuries just to keep him alive.

“In the end, his pain was so devastating, so catastrophic, he sought the assistance of doctors to help him die.

“While the jury has concluded Wallace’s actions did not amount to murder, we felt it was the right thing to do to ask them to consider the charge based on the evidence.” 

Press Association

Speaking outside Bristol Crown Court, Van Dongen’s father Cornelius shook and was emotional as he paid tribute to his son.

“Mark was so brave when confronted with the hellish pain and disabilities inflicted upon him but eventually it became too much for him to bear,” he said, speaking through a Dutch interpreter.

“He died in dignity and will live on in the hearts of his family and friends.

“The court process was a difficult and emotional experience.

“I am very disappointed in the outcome of this trial.

“There are only losers in this case. I hope that Mark can now rest in peace.”