- Arthur Collins, 25, has been convicted of causing GBH and ABH to 14 victims
- He was going out with Towie star Ferne McCann at the time of the attack
- Attacker claimed he thought the liquid was a date-rape drug during his evidence
- But he was convicted of 14 charges today and now faces a lengthy jail term
- CCTV shows him hurling liquid on dancefloor before slipping out of nightclub
The ex-boyfriend of Towie star Ferne McCann faces years in jail after he was found guilty of carrying out one of Britain’s worst acid attacks.
Arthur Collins, the father of The Only Way is Essex star’s newborn child, was charged after a corrosive substance was hurled over a crowd at Mangle E8 in Dalston, east London, on April 17.
CCTV footage shows him cowering behind another man as he throws the acid across the dancefloor, sending revellers running for safety and leaving 14 people injured.
Collins, who was out celebrating the news of Ms McCann’s pregnancy, tried to claim he did not realise the liquid was acid.
But a jury at Wood Green Crown Court today convicted him of five counts of grievous bodily harm with intent, and nine counts of actual bodily harm against 14 people.
Arthur Collins has been found guilty of carrying out a horrific acid attack which left more than a dozen clubbers injured. He is pictured (right) as he left the nightclub
CCTV showed Collins (top left) throwing a liquid across the east London club’s dancefloor
There were tears in the public gallery, which was packed with Collins’ friends and family, as the jury’s verdicts were read out.
Judge Noel Lucas QC warned Arthur Collins he faces a ‘very substantial and immediate’ prison sentence.
He said it was an ‘exceptional’ case because of the circumstances and the ‘severity’ of the injuries he inflicted on numerous clubbers.
Collins was convicted on all counts on a majority verdict of 10 to two and faces a lengthy jail term when he is sentenced on December 19.
Police believed the attack was part of a feud between rival gangs which ‘spiralled out of control’.
Prosecutor Ciro D’Alessio told a pre-trial hearing that the acid attack ‘bears the hallmarks of both drug-related activity and gang related activity’.
McCann has since given birth to the couple’s child. They split up around the time of his arrest
The showbiz couple had posted a number of photos online in the weeks before the attack
Collins had spent the day of the attack with this then-girlfriend Ferne McCann and she had announced she was pregnant. He said he later went to the nightclub to celebrate
Police had found a fully functioning cannabis farm, along with weapons including a taser and two cans of CS gas at Collins’ home.
‘This was essentially an incident between one set of gang members against another set of gang members,’ Mr D’Alessio said.
‘Police intelligence suggests that both of these defendants have been both on the giving end and receiving end of previous gangland incidents leading up to this.’
Mr D’Alessio described it as a ‘gangland war that has unfortunately drawn members of the public into it’.
Victims described a burning smell and their skin ‘blistering straight away’ before everyone started ‘screaming, shouting, running’.
The substance was later found to have a rating of pH1 – indicating a strong acid.
Victims Phoebe Georgiou (left) and Lauren Trent (right) were left with nasty burns by the acid
Ms Trent was celebrating her birthday with her friend Sophie Hall, who was also injured
Collins was living with his parents in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, at the time of the attack.
He started dating Ferne McCann in the summer of last year and they were on and off until the time of his arrest over the attack.
Ms McCann posted pictures on Instagram of them on holiday in Dubai and told OK magazine that they were planning to move in together.
On the day of the attack, Collins and Ms McCann had been at a family barbecue where she had announced her pregnancy.
Collins then went out with his friend Andre Phoenix to celebrate and got into the row which led to the acid being thrown.
He insisted he overheard a group of men planning to spike a girl’s drink.
After an argument broke out he was handed the container of acid in the melee. He insisted he thought the liquid was a date rape drug.
He threw it over them and says he left the club without realising there had been ‘a serious incident’.
Text that showed Collins had bottle of acid in his car before attack
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.
But prosecutors used the text as evidence to show he was used to being around acid and was not the innocent bystander he claimed.
In a text sent to his sister, Collins wrote: ‘mind that little had wash in my car acid’
Police and ambulances outside the nightclub after what was one of the UK’s worst acid attacks
At least 16 people were injured in the attack, with some taking to the witness box to tell how the their skin was ‘coming off’ and they could hear a hissing sound after the acid was thrown.
Police eventually tracked down Collins to a house in Northamptonshire.
He jumped out a bathroom window as they entered the property, fracturing both his feet. He was Tasered after jumping over garden fences to get away. He claimed he didn’t realise those entering the house were police.
During the trial he was quizzed over a bottle in his car he had previously told his sister was ‘acid’. He claimed it was amino acid shampoo to combat baldness.
After the verdicts today, Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Laurence said: ‘Collins 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 people against whom he had inflicted serious injuries upon.
He claimed he did not realise the liquid was acid but was convicted by the jury today
Detective Chief Superintendent Laurence added: ‘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.’
Panic in nightclub after acid was thrown over crowded dancefloor
Lauren Trent was celebrating her 22nd birthday with friend Sophie Hall at the time of the acid attack.
She said: ‘I bent down to get my bag it was like when you open a can of coke, you hear this sissing, hissing sound, a sound like an aerosol.
‘The liquid touched my neck and it instantly started burning my skin and my skin was coming off in my hands.
‘I knew it was acid, I have been to clubs before where there was pepper spray, nothing blisters that quickly other than acid.
Lauren Trent (pictured left and, right, with friend and fellow victim Sophie Hall) was enjoying a birthday night out when she was doused with acid
Ms Hall, from Bournemouth, Dorset, added: ‘My face was burning and it felt like it was on fire and I couldn’t see.
‘It very, very strongly smelt like petrol. It was such a strong smell it took my breath away.
‘I couldn’t see out of my right eye – I could see to get to the bathroom but it was hazy.
Isobella Fraser showed her injuries in the trial. Her case was not set out in the trial as she had returned to her native Australia
‘Where the substance had hit my body it was burning on my clothes. The clothes were sticking to me.’
Tamara-Jane Castle said she felt a burning sensation on her arms, shoulders and the top of her back, which were exposed by her backless dress.
She said she ‘couldn’t feel the acid until it started getting hot’ and described it as ‘like when you burn yourself – it doesn’t hurt automatically it blisters and then hurts’.
Ms Castle added: ‘I had blisters automatically on my arm and pieces of my dress started moulding to my arm where [the material] was so hot.’
Nadia Pascal was hit in the leg as she sat chatting with friends. In her statement, she said: ‘My friends thought it was my fake tan running but I don’t wear fake tan I knew it wasn’t.
‘I looked down at my legs and saw white streaks running down me. It really, really hurt.’
Acid attacker was pictured living the high-life on palm-lined beaches and swigging champagne with TV star girlfriend days before leaving clubbers with horrific burns
Collins posted photos of his lap of luxury lifestyle just days before the acid attack which injured 14 clubbers.
Scotland Yard announced he was a suspect in the same week he posed with Ms McCann for a glossy magazine photoshoot and the couple told how they were thinking of marrying.
A week before the attack, he posted a photo of himself posing in a palm tree on a tropical beach during the latest of his apparently endless trips to the sun with friends.
Arthur Collins posted this photo on Facebook just weeks before a shocking acid attack
His Facebook showed his party lifestyle as he lounged in pools. He now faces a jail term
A month earlier, Ms McCann had published a photo of the couple with a £300,000 Rolls Royce Phantom along with the caption: ‘Dubai nights’.
The couple met on Instagram last year and were together on and off until officially announcing they were in a relationship earlier this year.
Commenting on their online meeting, Ms McCann previously said: ‘I thought he had such an unusual, cool look – then about a month later he slid into the DMs.’
Collins grew up in Enfield, north London, where he showed promise as a footballer.
He and Ms McCann were first spotted together at a pool party in Marbella shortly after they first met last summer and are later said to have taken a romantic trip to Barcelona.
He was pictured inhaling from balloons during one of his series of trips to the sun
He posted pictures online showing him being poured spirits during one of his many holidays
But they said they believed their relationship ‘wasn’t going anywhere’ and Ms McCann, who rose to fame on The Only Way is Essex, attempted to find love E4 dating show Celebs Go Dating.
Collins later said seeing her on show made him jealous, telling a magazine: ‘I didn’t watch too much of it because I didn’t want to see her going on dates.’
In a blaze of publicity, the couple then announced they were back together after Ms McCann posting a photo of Collins with his arms around her last month.
Ms McCann, who has worked on ITV’s This Morning, then shared an intimate video of the couple in bed together with her fans through the Snapchat app.
This week was to be the most public proclamation of their relationship, with a tell-all interview in showbiz magazine OK!.
He went on the run in the same week as he appeared in a glossy magazine with Ms McCann
Ms McCann gushed: ‘We spend every night together anyway. Moving in is definitely the next step. And I know that seems a bit rushed, but when you know, you know. And we’ve been mucking about, so let’s just go for it!’
But on the day the magazine appeared in shops, police announced they were searching for Collins over the acid attack.
Cage fighter, 21, is cleared of helping Collins ‘launch nightclub acid attack’
A cage fighter accused of helping Collins carry out an acid attack in a packed nightclub has been cleared of all charges against him.
Andre Phoenix was on trial alongside Arthur Collins for allegedly hurling the substance over a crowd at Mangle E8 in Dalston, east London.
Phoenix, of Tottenham, north London, was caught on CCTV apparently holding Collins’ arms as he sprayed the liquid at revellers on April 17.
Cage fighter Andre Phoenix has been cleared of aiding an alleged acid attack by Arthur Collins
But the 21-year-old, a semi-professional cage fighter, was acquitted at Wood Green Crown Court on Monday of four counts of grievous bodily harm and two of actual bodily harm after insisting he had no idea anybody was carrying acid.
In his evidence, he told the jury that he had only stepped in to separate Collins and another male when they started squaring up to one another.
Phoenix said he would just ‘knock them out’ if someone angered him, adding ‘I don’t roll with acid.’
Phoenix said he couldn’t hear what the row was about by tried to calm the situation down
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.
Phoenix attended the Whittington Hospital in Archway, north London, the following day for treatment.
He wept in the dock as the jury’s verdict was read out and turned to look at his mother, who was present throughout the trial.
Originally from Montserrat, Phoenix moved to the UK when he was a child with his family. They first lived in Walthamstow, then moved to Tottenham.
Phoenix was introduced to mixed martial arts by a PE teacher who invited him to train at a club in Hertfordshire. There he met Collins through his younger brother Tommy.