23/05/2018 10:34 BST | Updated 23/05/2018 13:06 BST

Berlinah Wallace Sentenced To Life In Jail For Acid Attack On Boyfriend Mark Van Dongen

She will serve a minimum of 12 years.
Berlinah Wallace has been found guilty of throwing acid over Mark Van Dongen.

A woman found guilty of throwing acid over her ex-partner, which prompted him to later take his own life at an assisted dying clinic, has been sentenced to 12 years in jail 

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

Wallace was acquitted of the murder charge but was last week found guilty of throwing a corrosive substance with intent at Bristol Crown Court.

In delivering her sentence, Mrs Justice Nicola Davies said Wallace had bought the 98% concentration sulphuric acid to “attack” van Dongen, an engineer, because he had left her for another woman.

The judge told Wallace: “Having carried out this horrific attack you then told lie after lie.

“When interviewed by the police you sought to place the blame upon Mark van Dongen, falsely alleging that he had poured the acid into the glass on your bedside table intending that you should drink it.

“Not only did you make this wholly false accusation to the police and throughout your trial, you further sought to destroy the name and character of Mark van Dongen, alleging that he was the abuser in your relationship.”

The judge said she accepted the evidence of Mr van Dongen’s colleagues and father, who said the engineer was scared of Wallace. “He was right to be so because he had some idea of what you were capable of,” she told Wallace.

The scene where Mark Van Dongen was found after an acid attack.

During the trial the jury was told that he 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. 

While his physical condition improved a little after the attack – he regained the power of speech – he was left paralysed from the neck down, and was said to have suffered 15 months of intense pain before taking his own life at a euthanasia clinic in Belgium on January 2, 2017.  

After sentencing, Justice Davies paid tribute to Mr van Dongen, who sat through every day of his son’s trial.

Speaking after the sentence was delivered, van Dongen said: “I promised that I would be here every day of the trial,” 

“I think if Mark had been here himself he would have behaved with the same dignity because that was how he was – he was my mirror image.”

He thanked people who had donated to a JustGiving page set up in his son’s memory.