- 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
Published: 09:35 EST, 13 November 2017 | Updated: 10:55 EST, 13 November 2017
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.
Police and ambulances outside the nightclub after what was one of the UK's worst acid attacks
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'.
At least 16 people were injured, 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 claimed he did not realise the liquid was acid but was convicted by the jury today
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.
Collins, of Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, denied five counts of grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent, and nine counts of actual bodily harm (ABH) against 14 people.
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.
'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.
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Australia: Scott Morrison saga casts scrutiny on Queen’s representative
In the past fortnight, Australia has been gripped by revelations that former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison secretly appointed himself to several additional ministries.
The move has been labelled a “power grab” by his successor as prime minister, and Mr Morrison has been scolded by many – even his own colleagues.
But the scandal has also dragged Australia’s governor-general into the fray – sparking one of the biggest controversies involving the Queen’s representative in Australia in 50 years.
So does Governor-General David Hurley have questions to answer, or is he just collateral damage?
Governors-general have fulfilled the practical duties as Australia’s head of state since the country’s 1901 federation.
Candidates for the role were initially chosen by the monarch but are now recommended by the Australian government.
The job is largely ceremonial – a governor-general in almost every circumstance must act on the advice of the government of the day. But conventions allow them the right to “encourage” and “warn” politicians.
Key duties include signing bills into law, issuing writs for elections, and swearing in ministers.
Mr Hurley has run into trouble on the latter. At Mr Morrison’s request, he swore the prime minister in as joint minister for health in March 2020, in case the existing minister became incapacitated by Covid.
Over the next 14 months, he also signed off Mr Morrison as an additional minister in the finance, treasury, home affairs and resources portfolios.
Mr Morrison already had ministerial powers, so Mr Hurley was basically just giving him authority over extra departments.
It’s a request the governor-general “would not have any kind of power to override or reject”, constitutional law professor Anne Twomey tells the BBC.
“This wasn’t even a meeting between the prime minister and the governor-general, it was just paperwork.”
But Mr Morrison’s appointments were not publicly announced, disclosed to the parliament, or even communicated to most of the ministers he was job-sharing with.
Australia’s solicitor-general found Mr Morrison’s actions were not illegal but had “fundamentally undermined” responsible government.
But the governor-general had done the right thing, the solicitor-general said in his advice this week.
It would have been “a clear breach” for him to refuse the prime minister, regardless of whether he knew the appointments would be kept secret, Stephen Donaghue said.
Critics push for investigation
Ultimately, Mr Hurley had to sign off on Mr Morrison’s requests, but critics say he could have counselled him against it and he could have publicised it himself.
But representatives for the governor-general say these types of appointments – giving ministers the right to administer other departments – are not unusual.
And it falls to the government of the day to decide if they should be announced to the public. They often opt not to.
Mr Hurley himself announcing the appointments would be unprecedented. He had “no reason to believe that appointments would not be communicated”, his spokesperson said.
Emeritus professor Jenny Hocking finds the suggestion Mr Hurley didn’t know the ministries had been kept secret “ridiculous”.
“The last of these bizarre, duplicated ministry appointments… were made more than a year after the first, so clearly by then the governor-general did know that they weren’t being made public,” she says.
“I don’t agree for a moment that the governor-general has a lot of things on his plate and might not have noticed.”
The historian says it’s one of the biggest controversies surrounding a governor-general since John Kerr caused a constitutional crisis by sacking Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975.
Prof Hocking famously fought for transparency around that matter – waging a lengthy and costly legal battle that culminated in the release of Mr Kerr’s correspondence with the Queen.
And she says the same transparency is needed here.
The Australian public need to know whether Mr Hurley counselled the prime minister against the moves, and why he didn’t disclose them
The government has already announced an inquiry into Mr Morrison’s actions, but she wants it to look at the governor-general and his office too.
“If the inquiry is to find out what happened in order to fix what happened, it would be extremely problematic to leave out a key part of that equation.”
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – Mr Morrison’s predecessor – has also voiced support for an inquiry.
“Something has gone seriously wrong at Government House,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“It is the passive compliance along the chain… that did undermine our constitution and our democracy… that troubles me the most. This is how tyranny gets under way.”
PM defends governor-general
Prof Twomey says the criticism of Mr Hurley is unfair – there’s was no “conspiracy” on his part to keep things secret.
“I don’t think it’s reasonable for anyone to expect that he could have guessed that the prime minister was keeping things secret from his own ministers, for example.
“Nobody really thought that was a possibility until about two weeks ago.”
Even if he had taken the unprecedented step to publicise the appointments or to reject Mr Morrison’s request, he’d have been criticised, she says.
“There’d be even more people saying ‘how outrageous!'” she says. “The role of governor-general is awkward because people are going to attack you either way.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has also defended Mr Hurley, saying he was just doing his job.
“I have no intention of undertaking any criticism of [him].”
A role fit for purpose?
Prof Hocking says it’s a timely moment to look at the role of the governor-general more broadly.
She points out it’s possible the Queen may have been informed about Mr Morrison’s extra ministries when Australia’s parliament and people were not.
“It does raise questions about whether this is fit for purpose, as we have for decades been a fully independent nation, but we still have… ‘the relics of colonialism’ alive and well.”
Momentum for a fresh referendum on an Australian republic has been growing and advocates have seized on the controversy.
“The idea that the Queen and her representative can be relied upon to uphold our system of government has been debunked once and for all,” the Australian Republic Movement’s Sandy Biar says.
“It’s time we had an Australian head of state, chosen by Australians and accountable to them to safeguard and uphold Australia’s constitution.”
But Prof Twomey says republicans are “clutching at straws” – under their proposals, the head of state would also have been bound to follow the prime minister’s advice.
“It wouldn’t result in any changes that would have made one iota of difference.”
Australia election: PM Morrison’s security team in car crash in Tasmania
A car carrying the Australian prime minister’s security team has crashed in Tasmania during an election campaign visit.
Four police officers were taken to hospital with “non-life threatening injuries” after the car and another vehicle collided, authorities said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was not in the car, but the accident prompted him to cancel the rest of his campaign events on Thursday.
The other driver involved was not hurt.
Tasmania Police said initial investigations suggested the second car had “collided with the rear of the police vehicle, while attempting to merge”. It caused the unmarked security vehicle to roll off the road.
The two Tasmania Police officers and two Australian Federal Police officers were conscious when taken to hospital for medical assessment, the prime minister’s office said.
“Family members of the officers have been contacted and are being kept informed of their condition,” a statement said.
“The PM is always extremely grateful for the protection provided by his security team and extends his best wishes for their recovery and to their families.”
Australians go to the polls on 21 May. Mr Morrison – prime minister since 2018 – is hoping to win his conservative coalition’s fourth term in office.
Polls suggest the opposition Labor Party, led by Anthony Albanese, is favoured to win. However, Mr Morrison defied similar polling to claim victory at the last election in 2019.
Mr Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition holds 76 seats in the House of Representatives – the minimum needed to retain power.
Political observers say the cost of living, climate change, trust in political leaders, and national security will be among key issues in the campaign.
In recent weeks, the prime minister has faced accusations of being a bully and once sabotaging a rival’s career by suggesting the man’s Lebanese heritage made him less electable. Mr Morrison has denied the allegations.
Mr Albanese stumbled into his own controversy this week when he failed to recall the nation’s unemployment or interest rates.
Sydney airport warns delays could last weeks on third day of travel chaos
Long queues at Sydney airport’s domestic terminals have continued for a third day, with some passengers missing international connections, as the airport warns delays resulting from a surge in travellers and a shortfall in security staff could continue for weeks.
Chaotic scenes were reported in the departure halls as early as 4.30am on Saturday, with some frustrated travellers, many of whom heeded the pleas of airport chiefs to arrive at least two hours before their domestic flight was due to take off, claiming only one security line was operating.
While the queues that formed early on Saturday are understood to have cleared later in the morning, the airport apologised to affected travellers.
“Traffic numbers are picking up and the close contact rules are making it hard to fill shifts and staff the airport. We appreciate your patience,” Sydney airport said on its Twitter account.
A wave of families travelling as the term two school holidays begin this weekend, combined with close contact rules that are understood to be taking out about 20% of security shifts in any given day, are driving the problem.
Certis, the company that Sydney airport contracts for its security operations, is desperately trying to recruit personnel, while the airport has reallocated back office, IT and retail workers to the departure hall to comb queues so they can prioritise passengers at risk of missing their flight.
“We are working around the clock to resolve these issues and have teams in the terminals bringing passengers forward in order of priority,” a Sydney airport spokesperson said.
He added that the airport is “anticipating it will [be] busy right through the school holiday period and peak over the Easter and Anzac Day weekends, in some cases at 90% of pre-Covid passenger levels”.
“We’re deeply grateful to passengers for their ongoing patience and we’re sorry to everyone who has been inconvenienced,” the spokesperson said. “We would also like to thank passengers for getting to the airport early and treating staff and each other with kindness and respect.”
The Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce was forced to clarify comments he made on Friday that passengers were “not match fit” and that those forgetting to remove laptops and aerosols from their bags at the security check contributing to the delays.
“Just to be clear, I’m not ‘blaming’ passengers,” Joyce said. “Of course it’s not their fault,” he said.
Qantas shed thousands of staff during the pandemic, and outsourced ground crews in a decision that was challenged in court.
On Saturday, Qantas also apologised to a Melbourne family left stranded in Sydney, after domestic flight delays caused them to miss an international trip.
Javiera Martinez, her partner Daniel Capurro and their three children were supposed to be flying to Chile on Friday to visit relatives they had not seen in three years.
But after their 8am Qantas flight from Melbourne was delayed by half an hour, baggage handling and airport transfer delays in Sydney meant they couldn’t make their 11.30am LATAM Airlines flight to Santiago.
Martinez said the airline’s procedures at the airport were chaotic.
“We think Qantas didn’t behave appropriately. I got berated by the person at the counter – they never apologised, they never assumed any responsibility at all,” she said. “It was a rude conversation. We have been mistreated badly I would say.”
The PCR tests they need to travel have now expired and they will have to take them again as they wait for seats on the next flight to Santiago from Sunday.
The airline has apologised and paid for a night’s accommodation in Sydney.
“We sincerely apologise that the family missed their connecting flight on another airline due to delays moving through Sydney airport on Friday,” a Qantas spokesperson said.
The family is among many affected by hold ups amid the busiest travel period in two years, with Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports warning passengers to arrive two hours before domestic flights.
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