A South African lady accused of murdering her former partner by throwing acid over him has told a jury that she did not mean to hurt “her boy” and felt “so sad” at the terrible injuries he suffered. According to the woman, she thought it was water she spilled over his face.
Former fashion student Berlinah Wallace, 49, insisted she had thought she was throwing a glass of water rather than sulphuric acid over engineer Mark van Dongen at her Bristol flat.
Giving evidence at Bristol crown court for a second day, she claimed on the night of the alleged attack Van Dongen had told her to drink the acid, which she said she had bought to clean smelly drains.
Wallace, 48, is charged with murdering Van Dongen by leaving him with such catastrophic injuries that he opted for euthanasia at a clinic in Belgium. She threw acid over him in September 2015 and he died in January 2017, the jury heard.
Before he died, 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.
Wallace told the court she picked up a glass and hurled its contents at Van Dongen after he pulled her underwear during an argument.
“I thought it was water,” Wallace 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.”
“I didn’t mean to hurt my boy.” He got out of the shower, pushed past her and left, Wallace said.
Wallace claimed Van Dongen must have poured the glass of acid for her to drink and left it by the side of her bed.
She said she did not phone the emergency services to assist Dutch-born Van Dongen. “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 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.”
She dressed and threw the liquid in the glass at Van Dongen when he prevented her from leaving by pulling on her underwear, she said.
Wallace denies charges of murder and throwing a corrosive substance with intent.
Her trial continues.