“If I can’t have you, nobody else can.”
Those are the words prosecutors say 48-year-old Berlinah Wallace shouted before allegedly pouring corrosive sulfuric acid all over 29-year-old Mark van Dongen’s head and face in Bristol, England, reported the BBC. Now, nearly a year after the attack led to van Dongen to choose to be medically euthanized, Wallace is facing murder charges in the case. She denies intentionally splashing the man with acid, the Bristol Post reported.
The acid melted the man’s flesh, disintegrated his clothing and left him virtually blind. He became paralyzed from the neck down, reported the Guardian.
After the attack, van Dongen ran out into the street screaming for help, and when a neighbor heard the shouts and came out to help, van Dongen pointed to the open door of his apartment and said “She did it to me in there,” reported the BBC. When the neighbor walked past the door, she told the court she saw a lady talking on the phone looking “sullen and serious.”
In the hospital, van Dongen spelled out the name of his attacker by pointing at an alphabet board with his tongue, which was the only body part he could move at the time, reported the Bristol Post. According to the paper, he eventually lost a leg, his left eye and most of the vision in his right eye. Wallace was originally charged with throwing a corrosive fluid with the intent to maim, reported The Sun.
As time went on, van Dongen lost feeling in his hands and wound up paralyzed from the neck down. He needed 24/7 care and regularly lapsed into suicidal despair, at one point crying out “Kill me now, if my face is left looking like this — I don't want to live” after looking in a mirror, a emergency consultant told the court, reported The Times.
Eventually, doctors told him he was paralyzed permanently. “My life is come to nothing, there's nothing left of it. All I have left is a different ceiling to look at, that's all,” told his father, reported the Guardian.
He applied to be euthanized in his native Belgium, where assisted suicide is legal, and was approved based on “unbearable physical and psychological suffering,” reported The Guardian. He died with medical assistance in January 2017, 15 months after the attack.
Now, prosecutors have added murder charges in Wallace’s case, as they argue his death was ultimately caused by her actions, reported the BBC. Wallace admitted to throwing a glass of liquid on van Dongen, but said she believed it was a glass of water, not acid. her lawyer said van Dongen had himself put the acid in the glass and encouraged her to drink it, something he had done before, The Times reported.