Ferne McCann’s ex-boyfriend guilty of nightclub acid attack

The ex-boyfriend of reality TV star Ferne McCann has been found guilty of an acid attack in a packed nightclub.

Arthur Collins, the father of The Only Way Is Essex star’s newborn daughter, hurled the substance over a crowd at the Mangle E8 in Dalston, east London, on April 17.

The 25-year-old, of Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, was convicted at Wood Green Crown Court on Monday of five counts of grievous bodily harm with intent, and nine counts of actual bodily harm against 14 people.

His co-defendant, Andre Phoenix, 21, of Clyde Road, Tottenham, north London, was acquitted of four counts of grievous bodily harm and two of actual bodily harm on Monday morning.

Arthur Collins (Metropolitan Police/PA)
Collins admitted throwing the bottle of fluid over clubbers but said he did not know it was acid.

He said he thought the liquid was a date rape drug, which he had snatched from two men after overhearing them planning to spike a girl’s drink.

There were tears in the public gallery, which was packed with Collins’ friends and family, as the jury’s verdicts were read out.

Collins was convicted on all counts on a majority verdict of 10 to two, and he will be sentenced on December 19.

More than a dozen people were injured when acid was thrown over the dancefloor, which was packed with bank holiday revellers.

Collins said he had been out celebrating the news of Ms McCann’s pregnancy, which they had announced to her family the previous day.

CCTV showed him and Mr Phoenix arriving at the club at about 9pm before getting into a confrontation with a group of men around four hours later.

At around 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”.

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.

Collins 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 has a previous conviction for actual bodily harm in December 2015 after punching another man in the face in another nightclub attack.

 

I thought today would be the perfect day to tell you all her name…meet Sunday ??????

A post shared by Ferne (@fernemccann) on

Collins 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.

He said he did not hand himself in to police because he feared Ms McCann would be targeted by gang members if he did.

On April 10, a week before the attack, Collins sent a text to his sister reading: “Tell mum to mind that little hand wash in my car acid”.

Collins said the “hand wash” was actually a hair-thickening shampoo containing amino acid and coconut oil which he was concerned about his young nieces finding it and “biting it”.

He said he kept his shampoo in his car so Ms McCann did not find out about his hair loss and his two hair transplants.

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, north London, the following day for treatment.


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