The father of a man who ended his life after his girlfriend allegedly attacked him with acid took the stand Thursday to testify in the woman’s murder trial.
Berlinah Wallace, 48, is on trial in Bristol for the murder of her ex-boyfriend Mark van Dongen, 29. Though van Dongen chose to die in a euthanasia clinic, prosecutors argue that his death was a direct result of the attack, according to Daily Mail.
Wallace is accused of throwing acid on van Dongen as he slept. The two had been dating for five years and were living together when van Dongen started seeing another woman in August 2015.
Prosecutors say the day before the attack, September 22, 2015, van Dongen tried to reconcile with Wallace and sent her a message saying he wanted to be with her.
“I love you, I always have. I’m truly sorry for what I’ve done, we need to work on our relationship. You and me are meant to be. I’ve always known that. I will treat you as you deserve to be treated. You are my princess.”
The two planned to cook dinner together that night after van Dongen got off work, but, instead, he went out with his new girlfriend, Violet Farquharson.
Later that night, Wallace and van Dongen got into an argument, and Wallace told him that she was going to stay in a hotel.
According to a testimony van Dongen recorded before taking his life, Wallace returned to the apartment around 3 a.m. that night. She put sulphuric acid in a cup, then went to van Dongen. Right before throwing it on his face, she allegedly shouted that if he wasn’t with her, he wouldn’t be with anyone else either.
“If I can’t have you, no one can.”
Van Dongen ran into the street, screaming for help. He was rushed to a hospital and spent the next 15 months in therapy. The acid burns covered 25 percent of his body, and he was paralyzed from the neck down; he only had use of his tongue. He lost his left eye, part of his leg, and partial eyesight in his right eye.
He made the decision to take his life in a euthanasia clinic and died on January 2, 2017.
His father, Cornelius van Dongen, took the stand Thursday to testify in his trial.
He told the court that van Dongen couldn’t communicate with anyone for four months after the incident. Since he could only use his tongue, he was given an alphabet sheet to spell out who attacked him. He spelled out “Berlinah.”
When was able to speak again, he told his father about the night of the attack, and what Wallace shouted right before pouring acid over his face.
Cornelius said that his son was able to use his hands at one point, but when his condition worsened and he lost the use of them again, he became depressed.
After leaving the hospital, van Dongen was transferred to a care home. Cornelius said at one point he received a distressed call from his son.
“He wanted to return to a normal life, that is what he wanted. He wanted me to return to work. He called me and he was very distressed. So I got in my car and drove straight to Bristol. I thought I would spend an hour napping in my car. I heard Mark scream so I rang the bell and at one point they opened the door. Mark was lying there in his own feces and no one wanted to help him. I got towels from my car and washed him.”
After that incident, van Dongen was transferred to a hospital in Belgium where he was told that his paralysis was permanent. He completed the application for euthanasia, which is legal in Belgium. After he developed an acute lung infection in the hospital, the doctors agreed to the procedure.
“He said that ‘my life has come to nothing, there’s nothing left of it, if I come home with you there’s just a different ceiling to look at, that’s all.'”
[Feature image: Facebook]