Woman facing jail for acid attack
A young woman is facing jail after being found guilty of leaving a friend scarred for life in an acid attack over a "trivial, insignificant" argument.
Business student Mary Konye, 21, disguised herself in a Muslim veil and attacked Naomi Oni after following her home from work, a jury at London's Snaresbrook Crown Court found.
Ms Oni, also 21, a Victoria's Secret shop assistant, was left with serious burns on her face and chest after the incident in Dagenham, east London, on December 30 2012.
Following the attack, Konye pretended to give Ms Oni a shoulder to cry on.
She then used the "implausible" excuse that it had been Ms Oni who planned the incident because she wanted "fame and fortune and to sell her story to the paper", police said.
Ms Oni burst into tears as she left the courtroom and was hugged by family, but did not make any comment.
Friends said they were "glad that a truthful verdict had been reached".
Speaking outside court after the conviction, Detective Chief Inspector Dave Whellams said it had been a "serious, horrible offence which required a degree of planning and calculation".
He told reporters that witnesses had testified in court that Konye planned the attack over the course of two years.
"She has prepared for this over a number of months, even years, all resulting from a trivial, insignificant argument that everybody has in their everyday lives," he said.
"But Mary Konye has taken this so far that she has planned this, disguised herself and followed Naomi on that night.
"The result today will give Naomi only some comfort but she is never going to be away from the fact that she is scarred. Every time she looks in the mirror she is going to be reminded of the fact but it will enable her to start to get some closure."
Mr Whellams said the true reason behind the attack had not been established.
"They can't tell me really what the argument is - it's fashion, it's boyfriends, it's everyday things ," he said.
Dressed in black, Konye remained calm as the jury of eight men and four women returned their unanimous verdict after seven and a half hours of deliberations.
Judge David Radford warned that she faces jail when he sentences her on March 7.
"I should make clear that, in my judgment, this is a case that will, in all likelihood, need a substantial custodial sentence," he said.
CCTV footage obtained by police after the attack showed Konye in a niqab following Ms Oni as she left work at the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford at around 11.30pm.
The victim lost her hair and eyelashes, and required skin graft surgery to cover her burns.
The jury heard that, the day after the attack, Konye sent a mobile phone message to her friend, who was in hospital receiving treatment, saying "OMG, I can't believe it."
It is thought to have been a copycat attack mimicking the one suffered by model and TV presenter Katie Piper, who was badly scarred and left blind in one eye in an assault arranged by her ex-boyfriend, Daniel Lynch, in 2008.
Ms Oni told the court that Konye was aware of how much of an impact Ms Piper's ordeal had had on her after watching a television documentary about it.
The pair, who had been friends since secondary school, fell out in April 2011 when Ms Oni allegedly accused Konye of texting her boyfriend and called her an "ugly monster".
Baljit Ubhey, Chief Crown Prosecutor for London, described the attack as "extremely brutal".
She also praised Ms Oni for her "courage and dignity" in giving evidence during the trial.
"The use of acid as a weapon is cruel and horrifying," she said.
"It can have a devastating effect on victims and can cause long-term pain and disfigurement as well as emotional and psychological harm."
Konye, of Canning Town, east London, had denied throwing or casting a corrosive fluid with intent to burn, maim, disfigure, disable or do grievous bodily harm.