A man who indiscriminately threw acid in a packed east London nightclub, injuring 22 people, has been jailed for 20 years.
Arthur Collins left 14 people with serious burns when he hurled the corrosive liquid into the crowd out enjoying the Easter weekend.
Collins is the former boyfriend of reality TV star Ferne McCann, who appears in hit ITV show The Only Way is Essex (TOWIE).
On the night of the attack on April 17, Collins of Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, was out celebrating the pregnancy of his then-girlfriend, who has since given birth to their daughter.
Collins was found guilty last month of five counts of GBH and nine of ABH in relation to the attack at the Mangle E8 nightclub in Dalston.
Those injured were left screaming in agony, with three of the victims giving emotional victim impact statements to the court.
Branded “an accomplished and calculating liar” by the judge, Collins was sentenced at Wood Green Crown Court to 20 years plus five years on an extended licence.
Judge Noel Lucas QC described the attack as “deliberate and calculated” and ordered that Collins must serve at least two thirds of his sentence before he can be considered for parole.
He admitted hurling the liquid but denied knowing it was acid, but Mr Lucas ruled his version of events was “a lie” and said Collins carried out the attack following a “trivial slight” during an argument with another man.
He labelled the indiscriminate attack “a silly little mistake” in a letter to the court, in which he finally apologised for his actions.
Collins was caught on camera appearing to laugh and joke shortly after the attack, as his distressed victims were desperately seeking help at various London hospitals.
During the trial, the jury heard reference to a message Collins sent six days prior to the attack to his sister in which he warned: “mind that little hand wash in my car ACID.” Collins claimed in court that the message referred to a shampoo containing amino acid and coconut oil that he was worried about his nieces finding and biting it.
He said that he kept it in his car to hide the fact that he had a hair transplant from Ms McCann, who ended her relationship with Collins in the aftermath of the attack.
During the sentencing hearing, it was revealed Collins once made threats to throw acid at a former girlfriend’s mother and to have her raped.
Collins has a string of previous convictions for criminal damage, possession of cocaine, drink-driving, ABH and public order offences.
Mr Lucas said the extended sentence was “essential to protect the public from further harm” following the “despicable and cowardly crime”.
Three of Collins’ victims – Phoebe Georgiou, 23, Lauren Trent and Sophie Hall, both 22 – told the court how the attack had left them scarred both physically and emotionally.
Speaking after the sentencing, Ms Hall said: “After the result today, I do feel like justice has been served.
“The last eight, nine months of our lives have been hell.
“Arthur didn’t show any signs of remorse in court. His actions are something he is going to have to live with.
“And also the scars I have been left with are something I am going to have look at every time I look in the mirror; every time I get changed; every time I take my clothes off.
“We have been left with permanent scars for the rest of our lives.
She added: “We were hoping for a life sentence. But I am very pleased with the sentence that he has received today.”
Paying tribute to the bravery of the victims who gave evidence during the five-week trial, Hackney Borough Commander Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Lawrence said: “Collins went to the nightclub that night with a bottle of a noxious substance with the intent to use it to inflict serious harm. He 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 16 people against whom he had inflicted serious injuries upon.
“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 will now spend a significant length of time behind bars.