A man who squirted acid in a crowded nightclub, injuring more than 20 people, has been found guilty of a string of offences.
Arthur Collins, 25 (19.05.92), of Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, was convicted on Monday, 13 November of the following charges at Wood Green Crown Court following a five-week trial:
- Five counts of wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm, contrary to Section 18 Offences against the Person Act 1861; and,
- Nine counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, contrary to Section 47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.
He will be sentenced on Tuesday, 19 December at the same court.
Andre Phoenix, 21 (27.11.95), of Clyde Road, Tottenham was found not guilty of four counts of wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm; and two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Police were called to Mangle event venue on Warburton Road in Hackney, at around 01:15hrs on Monday, 17 April, to reports of people injured by a noxious substance. The London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service also attended.
A total of 22 people reported injuries to police - of whom 16 suffered serious burn injuries.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident there were fears that the eye injuries of three of the victims were so severe that their vision could be permanently affected. Fortunately this proved not to be the case - although one of these victims did tell the court that he still suffers blurred vision in one of his eyes.
The detail of the injuries inflicted on the 16 victims were as follows:
Victim 1: A 29-year-old man, suffered second degree chemical burns to left side of the face, including cheek, eye, eyelids and lips. His wounds extended from right temple and forehead, across the bridge of his nose and into the left eyebrow.
Victim 2: A 24-year-old man, suffered third degree chemical burn injuries to the left side of face, ear, neck and shoulder area. One and a half per cent of total body surface area affected. A skin graft was required.
Victim 3: A 21-year-old man, sustained chemical burns, to right cheek, lower left cheek, and anterior neck with additional areas to his left check and left arm and hand. Six per cent of the total body surface area affected.
Victim 4: A 21-year-old woman, suffered chemical burns, on nose and cheeks extending onto lips, on her left shoulder extending to her left breast. Multiple small blistered areas affecting her neck, upper chest and upper limbs. A corneal abrasion (scratch on eye) with chemical conjunctivitis.
Victim 5: A 23-year-old woman, suffered chemical burns, affecting chest, breasts, neck and upper left arm. Three per cent of total body surface area affected. Surgical intervention to treat abscess infection resulting in a further week in hospital subsequent to her discharge.
Victim 6: A 22-year-old woman, sustained chemical burns, affecting neck, upper chest, abdomen and lower limbs.
Victim 7: A 23-year-old woman, suffered chemical burns, affected forehead and swollen left eye and corneal abrasion.
Victim 8: A 29-year-old man, suffered chemical burns, splash marks over his face.
Victim 9: A 25-year-old man, sustained first degree chemical burns to right cheek and neck and upper limbs.
Victim 10: A 20-year-old woman, suffered chemical burns to right shoulder and back.
Victim 11: A 25-year-old woman, sustained reddening and irritation to skin on foot.
Victim 12: A 24-year-old woman, suffered chemical burns, splash marks affected posterior and left lower leg. One per cent of total body surface area affected.
Victim 13: A 22-year-old woman, suffered burn splash marks on the back of her right leg.
Victim 14: A 23-year-old man, sustained chemical burns, corneal injury with cloudiness in the right eye.
Victim 15: A 19-year-old woman, suffered chemical burns on her left leg.
Victim 16: A 23-year-old woman, suffered chemical burns, splash marks to left arm, shoulder and forehead.
The court heard that Collins got into an altercation with a group of men on the dancefloor at the club just before 01:00 hrs.
Collins was captured on CCTV grabbing a bottle containing the noxious substance from the back pocket of an unidentified man, and forcefully throwing the substance towards the face of one of the men he was arguing with, with no regard for other partygoers standing in close proximity.
As this first man dropped down to the floor in pain, Collins then squirted the contents of the bottle twice more. Victims described seeing 'steam' rise above them and an all pervasive chemical smell which made them choke.
Collins, who also sustained burn injuries from the acid used, stayed at the club for almost another hour until around 01:50hrs. He was captured on camera after the attack appearing to laugh and joke - as distressed club goers, who had fled the venue, were desperately seeking help at various hospitals.
A substance found at the scene was tested and identified as a concentrated PH1 acid solution. The PH scale runs from one to 14, with one being the most acidic. Although the actual nature of the liquid used was not possible to establish, PH1 is known to be the same strength as Hydrochloric acid.
During the trial, the jury heard reference to a message Collins sent six days prior to the attack to his sister in which he warned: "mind that little hand wash in my car ACID." However, Collins claimed in court that the message referred to a shampoo containing amino acid and coconut oil that he was worried about his nieces finding and biting it.
He said that he kept it in his car to hide the fact that he had a hair transplant from his girlfriend - now mother of his child.
Following the incident, detectives from Hackney CID launched an investigation and carried out extensive enquiries including reviewing CCTV footage. Collins was quickly identified as the prime suspects.
Collins was arrested at an address in Rushden, Northamptonshire on Saturday, 22 April, after evading attempts by officers to locate and detain him following a media appeal naming him as wanted by police. The next day he was also charged with multiple counts of wounding with intent.
He answered no comment to all questions put to them.
Hackney Borough commander, Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Laurence, said: "Collins went to the nightclub that night with a bottle of a noxious substance with the intent to use it to inflict serious harm. He indiscriminately and recklessly sprayed the substance in a crowded place, knowing full well the danger this would pose to a large number of people. This was a barbaric and cowardly act.
"Furthermore, Collins stayed in the nightclub for an hour after the attack as police and emergency services arrived to tend to the victims, seemingly without a care for the 16 people against whom he had inflicted serious injuries upon.
"Collins, knowing he was wanted in connection with this offence and that the net was closing in on him, tried to evade officers but he was ultimately arrested and taken into custody. He now faces spending a significant length of time behind bars.
"I would personally like to thank the victims for their strength and bravery; in being forced by Collins to give evidence during the trial, they have had to re-live that night. I can only hope that their continuing strength will enable them to face the rest of their lives in a normal as possible way. I hope that at least they will take some solace from knowing that Collins will be going to prison."