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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

25-year sentence for acid attack man signals change in UK law

The national judiciary appears to have set a precedent about the severity of how future incidents will be treated

Emergency crews respond to the string of acid attacks in London. Sarah Cobbold/REUTERS
Emergency crews respond to the string of acid attacks in London. Sarah Cobbold/REUTERS

The full force of British law came down upon the head of Arthur Collins on Tuesday, when the 25-year-old was sentenced to spend the same amount of years in jail for committing an acid attack at a nightclub in London.

With the number of such crimes spiralling and media and public attention urging the government to take action on a crime that scarcely occurred five years, the national judiciary appears to have set a precedent about the severity of how future incidents will be treated.

Mr Collins looked pale as he was sentenced over the April attack which left 22 people injured, 16 of whom suffered serious burns.

“This was a despicable act,” judge Noel Lucas told him. “You knew precisely what strong acid would do to human skin," Lucas said. “In my judgement it was deliberate and calculated and you were intent on causing really serious harm to your victims.”

Mr Collins received a 20 year sentence for the crime, plus a five-year extension under supervision after the judge ruled he was so dangerous the public needed to be further protected.

The British capital saw 454 acid attacks reported last year, up from 261 in 2015 and 166 the year before. The government has announced plans to overhaul the way it tackles such crimes, including proposals to crack down on people carrying and buying acid.

The nightclub case was particularly high-profile due to Collins' relationship with reality TV star Ferne McCann, who was pregnant with their child at the time of the attack.

Collins went on the run for several days after the incident and during the trial admitted throwing the bottle of liquid over revellers after an altercation with a group of men, although he claimed he did not know it contained acid.

Evidence presented included a text message Collins sent to his sister days before the attack reading – “mind that little hand wash in my car acid” – which he told the court referred to hair-thickening shampoo.

Following the sentence being announced on Tuesday, the court heard of Collins' previous convictions, including assault.

In a separate incident, he had threatened a former partner’s mother with an acid attack and to have her raped, for which he received a caution after apologising.