Mangle E8 acid attack: Arthur Collins guilty of throwing substance in London Fields club
PUBLISHED: 14:46 13 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:54 14 November 2017
Arthur Collins has been convicted of temporarily blinding two people and disfiguring others after throwing acid on a crowded dance floor at the Mangle E8 nightclub in London Fields.
The ex-boyfriend of Towie star Ferne McCann denied five counts of GBH with intent and nine counts of ABH, but the jury at Wood Green Crown Court convicted him this afternoon with a majority of 10 to two.
There were tears in the public gallery, which was packed with Collins’ friends and family, as the jury’s verdicts were read out.
The 25-year-old, of Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, had admitted throwing the fluid at the club in Warburton Road on April 17, but said he did not know it was acid.
His co-defendant, Andre Phoenix, 21, of Clyde Road, Tottenham,, was acquitted of four counts of grievous bodily harm and two of actual bodily harm this morning.
Over the five-week trial, the court heard how Collins threw acid from a container into the face of a man he was arguing with, and then threw acid two more times in quick succession.
A total of 22 people reported injuries to police - of whom 16 suffered serious burn injuries, some of them severely disfiguring.
In the immediate aftermath there were fears 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 victim told the court he still suffers blurred vision in one eye.
Collins later claimed he did not know the container held a corrosive substance, but the prosecution was able to prove he had warned his mother through a text message 10 days earlier to “mind that little hand wash in my car acid”.
In court he claimed he was referring to his hair-thickening shampoo, but this was dismissed by the jury.
Lily Saw, reviewing lawyer for the London Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Our prosecution proved this acid attack was no accident. Arthur Collins went to a nightclub with a container which he knew contained strong acid, and was willing to use it.
“Acid can be as much of a weapon as a knife with equally damaging consequences, and many of the victims of this attack suffered very serious injuries.
“There is understandable concern about this issue, and these convictions show that those who choose to use acid as a weapon can expect to face very serious criminal charges.”
CCTV showed Collins and Mr Phoenix arriving at the club on April 17 at about 9pm before getting into a confrontation with a group of men four hours later.
At 1am people were seen clutching their faces and running off the dancefloor after Collins doused them with a liquid.
Clubbers dropped to their knees, shielded their faces with clothing, and rubbed ice on blistered skin after the attack.
The substance was later found to have a rating of pH1, indicating a strong acid.
Victims described a burning smell and their skin “blistering straight away” before everyone started “screaming, shouting, running”.
Hackney borough commander, Det Ch Supt Simon Laurence, said Collins had gone to the nightclub with the acid intending 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.”
He thanked 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,” he said.
Collins and Mr Phoenix were identified from the CCTV footage, in which Collins could be seen wearing a T-shirt with the word “killer” written on it.
Mr Phoenix was arrested on April 21 but Collins was not apprehended until a few days later.
He was Tasered as he was seized by armed police after trying to flee from an upstairs window of a house in Highham Ferrers, Northamptonshire.
He said he did not hand himself in to police because he feared Ms McCann would be targeted by gang members if he did.
Collins has a previous conviction for ABH in December 2015 after punching another man in the face in another nightclub attack.
He told the jury that he had been in a serious relationship with Ms McCann for around a year at the time of the incident, and had found out she was pregnant just weeks earlier.
“It was the happiest I have ever felt. We were both really happy,” he said.
In his evidence, Mr Phoenix told the court that he had only stepped in to separate Collins and another male when they started squaring up to one another.
Mr Phoenix, who was a semi-professional cage fighter before his arrest, said he would just “knock them out” if someone angered him, adding: “I don’t roll with acid.”
He was also burned by the substance and was captured on CCTV asking Collins to examine his face and washing himself with a bottle of water.
Mr Phoenix attended the Whittington Hospital in Archway the following day for treatment.
Collins will be sentenced on December 19 at Wood Green Crown Court.