25.02.2021

Ferne McCann’s ex ‘had acid in his car week before attack’

Arthur Collins, pictured with ex-girlfriend, TV personality Ferne McCann, threw acid three times in a nightclub attack, a court heard

Towie star Ferne McCann’s ex-boyfriend had acid in his car a week before he threw corrosive liquid in a crowded nightclub, injuring 17 people, a court has heard. 

Arthur Collins, 25, is accused of hurling acid across the dance floor at the packed ‘Love Juice’ event at the Mangle nightclub in Hackney over the Easter Weekend.

Collins admits throwing the liquid but claims he didn’t know it was acid. 

But the trial was told he had warned his sister that he had a container of acid in his car a week before the incident.

When police were searching for Collins in the days after the attack a mobile telephone was seized from his sister, jurors heard.

It contained an iMessage from Collins, which read: ‘Tell mum to mind that little hand wash in my car acid’, jurors were told. 

Wood Green Crown Court heard today that, after a brief altercation with a group of men in the VIP area at the nightclub on April 17, Collins threw the acid into a man’s face just before 1am.

As he was pulled away, Collins threw the acid twice more, hitting unsuspecting clubbers who ran to safety, prosecutors said. 

Arthur Collins, pictured after his arrest

Collins, pictured in a court sketch from a previous hearing, denied charges today

Arthur Collins, pictured left and right, in a court sketch from a previous hearing, is on trial over the acid attack in a London nightclub which injured 17 people

He and co-defendant Andre Phoenix, 21, both deny five counts of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and 11 counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm on 17 April.

The two friends went to the club near London Fields armed with the acid, prepared for an attack, jurors were told.

Prosecutor Luke Ponte told the court: ‘It is the Sunday night of the Easter Weekend and people are out and about like it is a Saturday night.

‘The dance floor is crowded, it’s packed, people are enjoying themselves, just like any other club in the country.

‘And again, just like anywhere else, a bit of trouble flares up. Nothing much at first, the beginnings of an argument.

‘It doesn’t amount to much, some pushing some shoving, some young men, some raised voices but it quickly escalates.

Photos from the night show police and ambulances at the scene where clubbers were burned

Photos from the night show police and ambulances at the scene where clubbers were burned

‘It is not clear how this trouble started but it is very clear how it ended, suddenly and decisively, and not at all in keeping with what had gone before.

‘One of the young men, perhaps perceiving the threat of a knife, threw acid into the face of another young man.’

The prosecutor added: ‘As that man went down in pain, the aggressor threw acid at them a second time towards another young man, and then a third time.

Sophie Hall was among the 17 people treated for acid burns after the nightclub attack

Sophie Hall was among the 17 people treated for acid burns after the nightclub attack

‘You will see, in due course, the consequences of those actions, they were just as you would expect on a crowded dance floor, on a popular night.’

The prosecutor said 17 people were injured in the incident.

He added: ‘There is no dispute as to who threw the acid three times, it was Arthur Collins.

‘That he does not dispute it is perhaps unsurprising, as the confrontation, the first throwing, the second throwing and the third throwing are all captured quickly but distinctly on the club’s CCTV.

‘He was assisted, and we’ll come to how in a moment, by his good friend Andre Phoenix.

‘The Crown’s case is that these two friends came to the club together, armed with acid together, they stayed together, got drunk together, got in a fight together, threw it together, stayed around together and finally left together.’

Mr Ponte said it was Phoenix who was the aggressor to the men and Phoenix who passed the acid to Collins just before the first throw.

Collins and Phoenix stayed in the club for about an hour after the attack and later appea
red to be panicked as he asked a woman to ‘take a picture of my mate Phoenix’s face’.

The prosecutor said: ‘Mr Phoenix can be seen in that photo with markings from where the acid splashed him.

‘It might be useful to Mr Collins to have a photo of his friend looking like a victim, rather than an attacker. This was before he had seen the CCTV.’

Collins’ lawyer claims he stepped in during drinks spiking row

Makai Brown was questioned in court over an argument he was said to have had with Collins before the acid was thrown

Makai Brown was questioned in court over an argument he was said to have had with Collins before the acid was thrown

Collins’ defence team claimed the acid was thrown after a row with a group of men over claims they planned to spike a woman’s drink.

Collins lawyers told a witness he snatched a bottle of what he thought was a date rape drug from a group of men before the incident.

Makai Brown, who at the club with his friends Kwami Licorish and friend Ruam Mota, was called as a witness and denied having any altercation with anyone at the club.

Mr Brown, who played a soft drum roll on the witness box before stating his name at the start of giving evidence, insisted he was an innocent bystander.

George Carter-Stephenson QC, defending Collins, said Phoenix was trying to calm the group down after Collins had called them ‘d*******s’ and told them they were not spiking anyone.

‘I am going to suggest that you were talking about spiking somebody’s drink at the top of the stairs, one of you said “no you spike her, you do it”,’ said Mr Carter-Stephenson to Mr Brown, who denied the claim. 

Mr Carter-Stephenson asked Mr Brown: ‘Did you say to him in a threatening and aggressive way “do not f****** speak to me like that, how about we spike you, you mug”?’.

CCTV said to show Mr Brown with their heads close together with Collins and Phoenix’s arms around their necks was played in court.

Mr Brown denied having a conversation with Collins and Phoenix, saying that if they had spoken, it would have only been to talk about girls or his trainers.

Mr Carter-Stephenson then asked if Collins had taken a bottle from Mr Brown.

He continued: ‘A bottle which he thought contained something to spike drinks.’

Mr Brown denied having a bottle with him, explaining that he does not drink alcohol and had been searched on entry to the venue.

Ferne McCann, pictured last week, is no longer in a relationship with Collins, but is pregnant with his baby

Ferne McCann, pictured last week, is no longer in a relationship with Collins, but is pregnant with his baby

The court heard forensics officers were unable to establish what type of acid it was, but clothing of the some of the victims was damaged in a way that would be consistent with an acid attack.

‘A number of people were injured, both the intended victims and many people who happened to be standing close by. The injuries range from very serious, to much more minor,’ Mr Ponte said.

Mr Ponte said: ‘The Crown’s case is that both Mr Collins and Mr Phoenix were in this together.

‘The acid was spirited into the club by them for use as and when it might be needed. Who knows why they may have been ready for trouble, but they were.

Collins is standing trial with Andre Phoenix, who allegedly handed him the acid

Collins is standing trial with Andre Phoenix, who allegedly handed him the acid

‘It was Mr Collins that threw the acid. His case is that he did not know it was acid, there was no plan, and he certainly had not come into the club with the acid.

‘His case is that it had come into his possession just moments before, and he threw it in the heat of the moment, not knowing what it was.

‘It is his case that he came into possession of the acid from the complainants’ group, it was them who brought it into the club.’

Mr Ponte said Phoenix was ‘the prime aggressor in the confrontation’, while Mr Collins remaining behind. It appears that Phoenix handed Collins the acid, he added.

Mr Ponte said Phoenix was ‘not surprised’ when Collins threw the acid and didn’t give it ‘a second look, calmly backing away with no apparent concern’.

‘It is entirely consistent with him knowing what was going to happen,’ he said.

‘He has got into the fight, the Crown say, knowing that the acid was there to be used.’

Phoenix claims there was such no plan, he did not know about the acid, he did not pass it to Collins, he did not intentionally encourage or participate in Collins throwing the acid, jurors heard.

Two people were left partially blinded and another was disfigured in the attack at Mangle

Two people were left p
artially blinded and another was disfigured in the attack at Mangle

Two revellers were partially blinded and 15 others left disfigured in the alleged attack.

The GBH charges relate to clubbers Kwami Licorish, Makai Brown, Ruam Mota, Sophie Hall and Phoebe Georgiou. 

Scarlett Marshall, Tamara-Jane Castle, Jay Lanning, Nadia Pascal, James Bloor, Lauren Trent, Laura Hester, India Rose Sykes, David Mills, Alex Enever and Megan Usher were also hurt in the alleged attack at the Love Juice event. 

A jury of five men and seven women were sworn in on Monday to try Collins, and Phoenix, 21, at Wood Green Crown Court for a case expected to last at least three weeks. 

Collins, of Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, denies five counts of grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent, and 11 counts of actual bodily harm against 16 people. Phoenix, of Tottenham, north London, denies the same offences. 

The trial continues. 

Jury told Collins was Tasered by police after jumping from window 

After the attack, Collins and Phoenix were quickly identified from the CCTV as potential suspects, the court heard.

Phoenix was arrested on 21 April 2017 and answered no comment to all questions.

Officers noticed that he had splash marks on his face consistent with his having been splashed by acid, said Mr Ponte.

But Collins was not as easily traced, jurors heard.

Collins was Tasered after he jumped from a window of this house in a bid to get away, the jury were told today

Collins was Tasered after he jumped from a window of this house in a bid to get away, the jury were told today

When he was tracked down to an unfurnished house in Rushden, Northamptonshire he jumped from a first floor window in just his pants.

‘At first, Mr Collins could not be found,’ said Mr Ponte.

‘He was not at his home address and was arrested a few days later when police attended an unfurnished property in Northamptonshire.

‘Entry was forced to the premises, as officers repeatedly shouted ‘police’ in order to arrest him.

‘And Mr Collins jumped out of the first floor window in his t-shirt and underwear to try and get away. He was Tasered by officers and was arrested and cautioned.

‘And he complained of pain in his leg and was taken to hospital for assessment.

‘Once he was well enough, he too, was taken to a police station for interview under caution and he too as is his right, answered no comment to all questions asked of him.’

 

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