Hertfordshire based Arthur Collins jailed for nightclub acid attack
A Hertfordshire man has been jailed for 25 years for a nightclub acid attack.
Arthur Collins, the former boyfriend of a reality TV show star Ferne McCann, was found guilty in November at Wood Green Crown Court of five counts of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and nine counts of assault causing ABH.
Collins, 25, who lives near the Hemel Hempstead area in Broxbourne, threw acid from a container into the face of a man he was arguing with in the Mangle club in Dalston on April 17.
During the five-week trial, the court heard that Collins got into an altercation with a group of men on the dancefloor just before 1am.
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 there being a chemical smell which made them choke.
Collins, who also sustained burn injuries from the acid, stayed at the club until around 1.50am. He was captured on camera after the attack appearing to laugh and joke as distressed revellers, 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. 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."
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 the 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 suspect.
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 charged.
He answered no comment to all questions put to him at interview.
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 will now spend 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 in prison for a long time."
Collins was reported to have winked at his family as he was led to the cells after being sentenced yesterday.
He has been told he will spend 20 years in jail with a further five years spent on licence.