Student thought she was throwing water, not acid, on ex-partner, she tells court
Berlinah Wallace denies charges of murder and throwing a corrosive substance with intent.
A fashion student believed she was throwing a glass of water and not acid over her former partner, she told a court.
Berlinah Wallace, 48, is charged with murdering Mark Van Dongen, 29, by leaving him with such catastrophic injuries that he asked for assistance in ending his life.
Bristol Crown Court heard Wallace threw acid over Mr Van Dongen’s face and body on September 23 2015 and he died at a clinic in Belgium in January 2017.
Mr Van Dongen, who had a new girlfriend, told police he woke at 3am to hear Wallace laugh and tell him: “If I can’t have you, no-one else can,” before the acid was thrown.
Giving evidence-in-chief, Wallace told the jury she picked up a glass and threw its contents at Mr Van Dongen after he pulled her underwear during an argument.
I just turned around and I think I saw smoke or something. The only way I can describe it is black Berlinah Wallace, defendant
“I thought it was water,” Wallace, from South Africa, said. “I just wanted him to stop.
“He was hurting me. The contents went on him. I was trying to run away then he said ‘ooh you threw acid at me’.
“I just turned around and I think I saw smoke or something. The only way I can describe it is black.
“I was so shocked. I said ‘come on, let’s get into the shower’. He was saying ‘it hurts, it hurts’. He went in the shower.”
Wallace said she left Mr Van Dongen in the shower and went to the kitchen to fetch kitchen roll to “wipe him”.
“I didn’t mean to hurt my boy,” she wept.
“When I went in he already got out of the shower. He pushed me past him. He went away and then he went out.
“He just left. I was so scared.”
Wallace said Mr Van Dongen must have poured the glass of acid for her to drink and left it by the side of her bed.
After Mr Van Dongen left, the fashion student put the glass down and went to the lounge to call her ex-boyfriend and ask him to come over.
She said she did not phone the emergency services to assist Dutch-born engineer Mr Van Dongen.
I was so scared, so shocked and so scared. I didn't think about it Berlinah Wallace
“I didn’t think until the police asked me,” she said. “Then I thought ‘I should have called the ambulance’.
“I was so scared, so shocked and so scared. I didn’t think about it. I was so shocked, really, really shocked.
“I was thinking ‘oh my God, Mark, Mark’. My legs couldn’t carry me properly, (they were) like jelly.”
When asked how she felt about what happened to Mr Van Dongen, Wallace wept and wailed in court.
“Bad,” she eventually replied. “I feel so sad. So sorry. He was my best friend. He was my family.”
Wallace previously told the jury she had purchased the acid to deal with smelly drains at her basement flat in Westbury Park, Bristol.
She described the accusation that she had bought it to harm Mr Van Dongen, her former partner of five years, as “nonsense”.
The defendant, of Ladysmith Road, Bristol, denies charges of murder and throwing a corrosive substance with intent.
Her trial continues.