‘Act of pure evil’: Life in jail for woman who burned sleeping ex-boyfriend with acid

‘Act of pure evil’: Life in jail for woman who burned sleeping ex-boyfriend with acid

Updated

May 24, 2018 13:15:12

A woman who burned her ex-boyfriend so badly he was driven to euthanasia has been jailed for life in what police say is the first life sentence for an acid attack in the United Kingdom.

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Berlinah Wallace, 49, was last week found guilty by a jury of throwing a corrosive substance with intent, but not guilty of murder.

Her three-week trial in the Bristol Crown Court heard Wallace laughed as she threw 98 per cent proof sulphuric acid over Mark van Dongen while he was asleep.

“If I can’t have you, no-one else can,” Wallace said during the attack.

Mr van Dongen, 29, was left paralysed from the neck down and suffered extensive burns, including the loss of sight in one eye and partial blindness in the other.

He also had to have part of his left leg amputated after developing an infection.

Mr van Dongen spent 11 months in intensive care, four of them in a coma, before being discharged from hospital into residential care home.

The Bristol court heard he took his own life in January last year by voluntary euthanasia in Belgium, where the courts had recognised his “unbearable physical and psychological suffering”.

In sentencing Wallace to life in prison, Justice Nicola Davies said Wallace did nothing to help Mr van Dongen as he ran away screaming in pain.

“Your intention was to burn, disfigure and disable Mark van Dongen so that he would not be attractive to any other woman,” Justice Davies said.

“It was an act of pure evil.”

Ex-girlfriend researched acid attacks online

The court heard Wallace researched sulphuric acid and the damage it could cause before the premediated attack, with a total 82 entries found on her computer.

One of the entries was a 2015 article reporting a trial in which a man was alleged to have forced or tricked his girlfriend to drink a glass of acid.

Throughout her trial, Wallace claimed Mr van Dongen poured the acid into the glass on her bedside table intending for her to drink it.

Justice Davies rejected that account, stating Wallace had sought to destroy the name and character of Mr van Dongen, who had been her “supportive partner” for five years.

The court heard Mr van Dongen had previously confided in friends about the abuse he endured from Wallace and that he told his father he was scared of her.

In the weeks leading up to the incident, Wallace made repeated phone calls to Mr van Dongen and his new girlfriend.

On the night of September 22, 2015, Mr van Dongen went to the flat he had shared with Wallace because he was concerned she would harm herself.

Just before 3:00am the next morning, while he slept in nothing but his boxer shorts, Wallace threw the acid on Mr van Dongen.

He ran screaming from the flat to a neighbour’s property while Wallace sat on the sofa and called a friend, the court heard.

Wallace claimed the acid was purchased earlier in the month to clean her drains, but Justice Davies rejected that “lie”.

“It was not a random purchase,” Justice Davies said.

“You removed the label from the bottle containing the colourless fluid which stated that the acid causes severe burns and eye damage.

“You did so to prevent detection of the acid in your home. You chose your moment for the attack.”

The acid burned through 25 per cent of Mr van Dongen’s body.

Burns surgery consultant Jonathan Pleat gave evidence that there had been no equivalent patient with similar extensive injuries following a chemical attack.

Another treating clinician said Mr van Dongen’s physical appearance would never be restored to anything which could be described as normal, that he had been permanently and irrevocably drastically disfigured.

Justice Davies said despite reports Wallace had a difficult childhood, nothing could excuse her actions.

“Life imprisonment is the only sentence which reflects not only the nature of your offending, but the continuing risk which you pose,” she said.

Wallace will have to serve at least 12 years behind bars before she can be considered for parole.

‘Only losers in this case’

Mr van Dongen’s father, Kess van Dongen, described in a victim impact statement the pain his son suffered after the attack.

“The fact that Mark, a 29-year old man and recent graduate, decided to commit euthanasia, says something about the condition he was in and the amount of pain that he had been suffering,” he said.

“He said: ‘Dad, I am tired of fighting. I have suffered so much pain, I cannot take any more, please let me go’.”

Kess van Dongen later said he was “very disappointed” about the outcome of Wallace’s case.

“The court process has been a difficult and emotional experience,” he said.

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

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Paul Catton said the investigation had been one of the most harrowing in all his years as a detective.

“Mark van Dongen suffered the most inconceivable pain imaginable following what was a cowardly attack borne out of jealousy,” Detective Inspector Catton said.

“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.

“In my view, it takes an unbelievably callous person to show absolutely no empathy or remorse for the level of suffering she caused.”

Detective Inspector Catton said he believed Wallace was the first person to receive a life sentence for an acid attack.

Topics:

law-crime-and-justice,

prisons-and-punishment,

euthanasia,

united-kingdom

First posted

May 24, 2018 12:42:33

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Woman at center of Missouri governor scandal breaks her silence

Woman at center of Missouri governor scandal breaks her silence

The hair stylist who claims Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens used partially nude photos of her to blackmail her into keeping quiet about their love affair told a St. Louis TV station, “I’m not lying.”

In her first media interview, the woman told NBC affiliate KSDK-TV that she regrets having the brief fling with Greitens and wishes she could apologize to the Republican governor’s wife.

PHOTO: Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens stands off to the side before stepping up to the podium to deliver remarks to a small group of supporters near the capitol in Jefferson City, Mo., May 17, 2018, photo.Jeff Roberson/AP
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens stands off to the side before stepping up to the podium to deliver remarks to a small group of supporters near the capitol in Jefferson City, Mo., May 17, 2018, photo.

“I’m in the middle of the most difficult, crazy fight that I didn’t ask to be a part of,” she said. “And I feel like I’m this easy punching bag, yet I haven’t thrown any punches.

“I didn’t want this,” said the woman, who was only identified in court filings by her initials as K.S. and declined to show her face on camera. “I wasn’t out to get anyone. I really was just trying to live my life.”

Greitens, the married father of two young children, has admitted to having a consensual sexual relationship with the woman in 2015, months before he successfully ran for governor on a platform of family values. He has adamantly rejected any criminal wrongdoing, denying his accuser’s allegation that he surreptitiously took cellphone photos of her blindfolded and partially nude during a rendezvous in the basement of his home on March 21, 2015.

“There’s no blackmail. The mistake I made was I engaged in a consensual relationship with a woman who wasn’t my wife. It is a mistake that I’m deeply sorry for. Sorry to Sheena, my boys and everybody who relied on us,” Greitens said in a January interview with Fox affiliate KTVI-TV.

PHOTO: Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks at a news conference in Jefferson City, Mo., April 11, 2018, about allegations related to an extramarital affair with his hairdresser.Julie Smith/The Jefferson City News-Tribune via AP
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks at a news conference in Jefferson City, Mo., April 11, 2018, about allegations related to an extramarital affair with his hairdresser.

Greitens’ former mistress said the governor’s denials about parts of their relationship prompted her to speak out.

“The second that he denied the things that were the most hurtful, that were the most hurtful for me to now have to relive, I just realized: now I have this decision,” the woman told KSDK. “The only ethical thing I felt that I could do was to tell the truth.”

While the compromising photos have never surfaced, Greitens had been scheduled to go on trial this month on a felony invasion of privacy charge stemming from the allegations. The case against Greitens was dropped May 14 by St. Louis prosecutors.

A special prosecutor was appointed this week to determine if the case should be re-filed against Greitens, a former Navy SEAL.

The woman’s affair with Greitens was first publicly exposed by her ex-husband, who secretly recorded her admitting to the affair.

PHOTO: Afternoon sunlight on the state capitol building in Jefferson City, Mo., on a spring afternoon, April 28, 2015.Education Images/UIG via Getty Images
Afternoon sunlight on the state capitol building in Jefferson City, Mo., on a spring afternoon, April 28, 2015.

Earlier this year, she testified behind closed doors to the Missouri House Special Investigative Committee on Oversight. The committee released excerpts of her testimony this month and said she was a credible witness.

In her testimony, she claimed that Greitens blindfolded her and bound her hands to pull-up rings before he allegedly ripped open her shirt and pulled her pants down. She claimed she then heard what sounded like a picture being taken.

She testified that Greitens later told her, “Don’t even mention my name to anybody at all because if you do, I’m going to take these pictures, and I’m going to put them everywhere I can.”

In the interview with KSDK, she stood by her story.

“Yes, I do stand by them. They were hard to talk about. Really, really, really hard to talk about, but I absolutely stand by it,” she said. “I have no ill intention, other than not being made to be a liar. I’m not lying. This was hard. It was hard at the time, it’s hard to talk about now. I’m not lying. That’s it. I want to move on. I want to heal.”

She said her one big regret is that she hurt Greitens’ wife, Sheena Greitens.

“I would absolutely apologize,” she said when asked what she would say if she could speak to the governor’s wife. “I shouldn’t have been involved with him. I shouldn’t have gone into her home. I know that.”

Woman files lawsuit claiming R. Kelly “deliberately” gave her an STD

Woman files lawsuit claiming R. Kelly “deliberately” gave her an STD

A Dallas attorney filed a lawsuit Monday claiming Grammy Award-winning artist R. Kelly knowingly gave his client a sexually transmitted disease. Faith Rodgers, who was 19 at the time, accuses Kelly of “willfully, deliberately and maliciously” infecting her with herpes and sexual battery. She also claims Kelly “mentally, physically and verbally” abused her.

In an interview you’ll see Tuesday only on “CBS This Morning,” Rodgers told CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan that she was in a relationship with Kelly for nearly a year before leaving. During that time she said Kelly instructed her to call him “daddy” and told her his goal was to teach her how to have sex like a “mature woman.” Rodgers said he even introduced her to one of five women Kelly allegedly said he was “raising.”

R. Kelly In Concert - Brooklyn, New York

R. Kelly seen Sept. 25, 2015 in New York City.

Getty

She described one incident where Kelly visited her hotel room after he flew her to New York to attend one of his shows. According to Rodgers, she “submitted” to having sex with him.

“I didn’t really say anything. I kinda just froze up. I definitely was uncomfortable. But he has this type of, like, intimidation right off the bat. You know? So I was just waiting for it to be over,” Rodgers said.

“Did you find yourself in a position like that more than once with R. Kelly?” Duncan asked.

“Yes. I found myself like that multiple times,” Rodgers said.

After a series of sexual misconduct allegations by former girlfriends, several music streaming services, from Spotify to Apple, have removed R. Kelly’s songs from their playlists. A #MuteRKelly movement supported by the likes of Ava DuVernay, Kerry Washington and Viola Davis is also growing.

CBS News has reached out to R. Kelly’s representatives and have not heard back.

In a Washington Post article from April, a representative for Kelly said the singer “categorically denies all claims and allegations” in a complaint Rodgers previously filed with the Dallas Police Department.


Watch the in-depth interview with Faith Rodgers Tuesday, May 22, 2018, on “CBS This Morning,” which airs 7 to 9 a.m. ET/PT.

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Sydney woman jailed for killing cousin who used her Mercedes without permission

Sydney woman jailed for killing cousin who used her Mercedes without permission

Updated

May 22, 2018 14:55:48

The sister of a Sydney woman stabbed to death by her cousin over using and damaging her car says she hopes her killer “rots in jail”.

Katherine Abdallah, 36, has been sentenced to at least six years and nine months in jail for the manslaughter of 21-year-old Susie Sarkis in Brighton Le Sands in 2013.

Abdallah was Ms Sarkis’ flatmate and she often referred to her as her “baby sister”.

The court was told the women got into a physical fight because Ms Sarkis had taken Abdallah’s Mercedes two days in a row without permission.

Ms Sarkis damaged the car’s wheels by running into a gutter and had been pulled over by police for speeding.

Police came to Abdallah’s house where she said words to the effect “she [Ms Sarkis] is going to be in serious trouble when I get her, you guys will probably get called back”.

The next day a fight broke out on their street and inside their townhouse, with both women punching and hitting each other.

“[Abdallah] seemed to have the upper hand at some stages and Ms Sarkis seemed to have the upper hand at others,” Justice Julia Longergan said.

After tussling, Abdallah went into the kitchen and armed herself with two large knives and stabbed Ms Sarkis in the right upper chest.

She then walked away and sat on the lounge as Mr Sarkis fell to the floor.

After Abdallah stabbed Ms Sarkis she called triple-0 but misled the operator by saying she was checking the victim’s heart rate, but CCTV later revealed she was in fact cleaning two knives with detergent and putting them back in a knife block.

‘Would have been more tolerable if killer was stranger’

Self-defence was “run hard” at trial, Justice Longergan said, but the jury rejected that argument.

In a letter to the court in March Abdallah said:

“I have never been able to accept that my killing Suzie was criminal because I knew I acted in self defence.

“This does not mean I am not wholeheartedly sorry every single day for taking the actions that I did … there is nothing I regret more in my life.”

Justice Longeran said the CCTV footage showed a “volatile relationship” between the pair but Abdallah escalated events by grabbing knives from the kitchen.

It was a terrible crime that has torn a family apart, she said.

Justice Longeran told the court that in the victim statement from Mr Sarkis’ mother, she said it “almost would have been more tolerable if the person who killed her child was a stranger”.

Abdallah was initially charged with the murder of her cousin but acquitted by a jury in 2017 who instead found her guilty of manslaughter. She was retried last year and a jury again found her guilty of manslaughter.

Outside court, Ms Sarkis’ sister Christine said she would never forgive Abdallah who had not shown remorse.

“I was very close with her [Abdallah], I just still can’t believe she took my sister away,” she said.

Justice Longeran said Abdallah had “not behaved flawlessly” while in jail, with a number of offences including possessing a drug and obstructing an officer.

She said there was nothing that would justify adjusting the parole period.

Topics:

murder-and-manslaughter,

courts-and-trials,

sydney-2000

First posted

May 22, 2018 11:30:09

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