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Victim relives Arthur Collins acid attack

In an emotional interview on Good Morning Britain, 21-year-old Sophie Hall recounted the moment the corrosive liquid started burning her face as she partied with friends in Dalston, east London.

A young woman has revealed the devastating impact on her life after the ex-boyfriend of Towie star Ferne McCann hurled acid indiscriminately at innocent people in a busy nightclub.

Arthur Collins, the father of The Only Way is Essex star's newborn child, faces a 'substantial' jail sentence for throwing the corrosive substance over a crowd at Mangle E8 in Dalston, east London, in one of Britain's worst acid attacks. 

Collins, who was out celebrating the news of Ms McCann's pregnancy, claimed he didn't realise the liquid was acid - but a court heard he had got into a fight with a man he was aiming at. 

In an emotional interview on Good Morning Britain today, Sophie Hall recounted the moment the acid began burning her face and made her skin 'dissolve'.

The 21-year-old, who was out enjoying a friend's birthday, said her world 'fell apart' as she temporarily lost the sight in one eye and was left with life-changing scars.

Arthur Collins was out celebrating the news of Ferne McCann's pregnancy when he hurled acid indiscriminately at innocent people in a busy nightclub

Acid attack victim Sophie Hall gave an emotional interview on Good Morning Britain 

Arthur Collins has been found guilty of carrying out a horrific acid attack which left more than 20 clubbers injured. He is pictured (right) as he left the nightclub after the attack

Ms Hall told Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid her friends could not look at her after the savage attack. 

She said: 'I think the worst thing for me is being a girl and having permanent scars on my body. Nobody will know when you look in the mirror and see them how it will mentally affect you.

'I didn't do anything to deserve this but I've got to live with it of the rest of my life.

'We were just enjoying a normal night out. It hit me in my face and it felt like my face was on fire. I moved so fast I fell off my chair backwards.

Sophie Hall has been left with scarring on her shoulder and face

'It smelt so strongly of petrol that I thought somebody was going to set the club on fire. There was just so much panic. 

'All I wanted to do was stop the burning. It's a pain I can't actually describe, it felt like my face was on fire and there was no stopping it.

'We filled the bathroom sinks with water. It took quite a long time for the ambulance to get there.'

Asked about Collins, she said: 'I'm pleased that he's going to be off the streets and will be going down for a very long time.

'I think it's a very cowardly thing to do because it's so easily done - you can throw it and run, and ruin a life in seconds – if you catch somebody in the eyes and their sight goes. 

'You just don't understand how that is going to impact their life and unless you've had it happen to you, you just don't understand how it hurts.'

Ms Hall was left unable to fill her car up with petrol, because the smell of the fuel brings back memories of the night and leads to panic attacks.

But she added: 'I will continue to be as I was and I'm not going to let it stop my life.'

Piers Morgan told viewers: 'If you are tempted to use acid, watch this young woman and how traumatised she is. 

'Ask yourself, what kind of snivelling little coward would take a little piece of acid and throw it at people. 

'I think its horrendous and this acid thing has got to be stopped. They've got to bring in tougher sentences and get it off our streets. It's despicable.'

Piers Morgan said: 'What kind of snivelling little coward would take a little piece of acid and throw it at people. This acid thing has got to be stopped. They've got to bring in tougher sentences and get it off our streets. It's despicable'

Ms Hall still has panic attacks and was left unable to fill up her car with petrol because the smell reminded her of the acid attack

Phoebe Georgiou, 23, and Lauren Trent, 22, were celebrating their birthdays on April 17 when they were caught by the acid flung by Collins.

Miss Trent appeared on This Morning today where she revealed the ongoing anxiety she experiences in the wake of the attack. 

The 22-year-old, who has been left with scars on her neck, chest, legs and feet, said: 'It was my 22nd birthday. I had come back up to London with my best friend Sophie. We were about to leave. The club was packed, you could barely move. It got to 12.45am.  

'As I bent down, that's when the acid hit. It looked like people had fallen down a sink-hole. This once busy dancefloor was pretty much empty.'

Lauren Trent told This Morning: 'They are life scars. Why shouldn't that justify a life sentence?'

Asked how she knew it was acid, she said : 'Nothing blisters that quick - from the first bout of it coming, and the steam off the floor and the smell. As soon as I touched my neck, skin was coming off.

'It set off a panic in the bathroom. I was ripping off blisters. You're in so much pain.'

The 23-year-old had been separated from her best friend and the nightclub had descended into chaos.

She continued: 'It was like a warzone. I remember one person's skin hanging. It had slid. I turned around and stopped. My best friend was there saying, 'Lauren what is it?' I said, 'I'm really sorry, it's acid'. 

Our parents are two hours away in Bournemouth. I made that call to my mum, with my dad next to her in bed. I said, 'Mum, whatever I tell you now you can't panic'. 

'I said, 'I'm going to be fine, but I think we've been involved in an acid attack. Don't worry about me but I'm really worried about Sophie. It's her whole face'.

'I immediately knew I was going to have scars, but minimal. I sustained injuries to my neck, my chest, mainly my tummy, my legs and my feet. 

'Even though it's small. I look at them. I wake up every day and I look at my foot. If I had stood up it could have been my face. It could have been a lot worse. But seeing what everyone else had to go through. Even if you go on holiday and want to wear a swimsuit.'

Asked by Holly and Phillip what she would say to Arthur Collins, she said: 'What do you say to someone who throws acid? What could you ask him? 

'There's no justifying it. There's nothing he could say that would justify what he did that night. If it was your 22-year-old daughter, or your sister, or your mother or a really close friend? 

'What would you think? I'm calling for a life sentence, yes 100%. They are life scars. You have to wake up with it every day. Why shouldn't that justify a life sentence?'

Lauren Trent, who was left with scars on her neck, chest, legs and feet, appeared on This Morning calling for Collins to receive a life sentence

Lauren Trent, another victim of the attack, is calling for Arthur Collins to receive a life sentence

And once active and outgoing, Miss Georgiou now confines herself to her family home in north London and suffers night terrors and anxiety in crowded places. 

She said: 'I stepped on the step and literally one second after I felt a big splash all over my chest and my arm.

'I looked up and I saw it flying in the air. It was a thick liquid, it was steaming. And then I smelt the smell.' 

Between her arrival at Homerton Hospital in east London at 1.30am and her transfer to a specialist burns unit in Chelmsford, Essex, at 7am, Miss Georgiou was confined to a freezing cold shower in an effort to contain the burns.

'I saw my reflection in the shower hold, which was so shocking because my whole chest looked like it had been ripped apart and I could see the inside of my chest and my arm,' she said.

'When I was transferred to Chelmsford, all the broken skin had to be scraped off. While I was doing that I was on Entonox (gas and air) for the pain, because it was indescribable.

'But I would take any pain to get better.'

Victims Phoebe Georgiou (left) and Lauren Trent (right) were left with nasty burns by the acid

For Miss Georgiou, the effects of the attack persist through her routine of applying cream three times a day to alleviate tightness of the skin, and twice-daily applications of scar gel.

She wears a pressure garment on her left arm to keep the wounds from thickening, and is due to receive laser therapy on some of the worst-affected areas.

'It's not just physically scarring, it's mentally which is the hardest,' she said.

'Now I have a life sentence to deal with, with scars and mental injuries. And I have to see a therapist about twice a week because I'm dealing with such bad anxiety and panic attacks and sleep paralysis.'

Phoebe Georgiou said the acid 'instantly started to burn her skin on her chest and arms'

Ms Trent was celebrating her birthday with her friend Sophie Hall, who was also injured

Miss Trent, originally from Bournemouth, recalled being surprised at the relaxed manner of door staff as she made her way into the club on the April bank holiday Sunday evening.

'I've got a baby face and I always get ID'd, always, everywhere. They didn't even ID me,' Miss Trent said.

'Even the group of boys we were with, I can't remember any of them being searched. I know for a fact my bag wasn't searched or anything like that.'

She also called for Collins to be have the book thrown at him during sentencing, adding: 'Victims have to live with those scars for life, so why shouldn't that be justified with a life sentence?

'When you throw it, you're intending to impact someone for the rest of their life so I think you pay the price with your life in prison.' 

CCTV footage shows Collins cowering behind another man as he throws the acid across the dancefloor, sending revellers running for safety and injuring more than 20 people. 

Judge Noel Lucas QC warned Collins he faces a 'very substantial and immediate' prison sentence when he returns to court next month.

He said it was an 'exceptional' case because of the circumstances and the 'severity' of the injuries he inflicted on numerous clubbers. 

There were tears in the public gallery, which was packed with Collins' friends and family, as the jury's verdicts were read out. 

The judge added: 'I am concerned as to whether he poses a danger to members of the public. 

The acid left horrific scarring on the chest of victim Ms Georgiou, who ran for cover

Phoebe Georgiou desperately poured bottles of water over herself after the acid was thrown

'It's a somewhat exceptional case bearing in mind the circumstances of what happened, the number of people injured and the severity of their injuries.' 

A total of 22 people reported injuries to the police, 16 of whom suffered chemical burn injuries and three people were temporarily blinded - one of whom still suffers from blurred vision in one eye. 

It was thought 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'. 

Police had found a fully functioning cannabis farm, along with weapons including a taser and two cans of CS gas at Collins' home, it can be revealed today. 

'This was essentially an incident between one set of gang members against another set of gang members,' prosecutor Mr D'Alessio told a previous court hearing.

He said police intelligence suggested Collins had 'been both on the giving end and receiving end of previous gangland incidents leading up to this.' 

Ms McCann has since given birth to the couple's child. They split up at the time of his arrest

The showbiz couple had posted a number of photos online in the weeks before the attack

Mr D'Alessio described it as a 'gangland war that has unfortunately drawn members of the public into it'. 

Victims described a burning smell after the acid was thrown. They said their skin started 'blistering straight away' before everyone started 'screaming, shouting, running'. 

The substance was later found to have a rating of pH1 - indicating a strong acid. 

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. 

Collins will be sentenced on December 18 after he was convicted on all counts on a majority verdict of 10 to two.

Victim Lauren Trent said she was so relieved at the guilty verdicts she burst into tears.

Miss Trent said: 'It was a massive sense of relief. This has been seven months of energy and stress for all the victims.

'It doesn't change what happened to us but I am so relieved that someone like that will be off the street. 

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

His Facebook showed his party lifestyle as he lounged in pools. He now faces a long jail term

'Him being found guilty is the best thing that could have come out of a really horrible situation. 

'I hope it makes anyone who would think of doing something like that think again and know that they will get caught. You can't get away with it by making up an excuse.

'Some of the victims are still having operations to reduce the scarring, we've been left with a permanent reminder of what happened.

'I know I was really lucky that mine wasn't on my face, it could have been so much worse.

'But it's the first thing I look at in the morning. I've got one on my hand that I think is so ugly, but I can't do anything about them and I am grateful they weren't worse.

'I don't classify him as human, a normal person with feelings and emotions wouldn't do this. What do you say to someone that does that?

'There's no point asking him why he did it. There is no justification for what he did. 

 'Acid is something so serious, it doesn't get better after a few months like a punch or a broken bone, it has long-lasting effects, not just physically but psychologically too.

'The fact it happened on my birthday means that now my birthday will always be the anniversary of an acid attack for me, I'll never forget that.

'I'm definitely a lot more anxious in busy places now, I don't go out as much as I used to and I'm quite selective about where I go.

'If I'm in a nightclub I have to be somewhere high so I can see what's going on and if a fight might break out.

Text that showed Collins had bottle of 'acid' in his car before attack

A week before the attack, Collins sent a text to his sister which stated: 'Tell mum to mind that little hand wash in my car acid'.

Collins said the 'hand wash' was actually a hair-thickening shampoo containing amino acid and coconut oil which he was concerned about his young nieces finding it and 'biting it'.

He said he kept his shampoo in his car so Ms McCann did not find out about his hair loss and his two hair transplants.

But prosecutors used the text as evidence to show he was used to being around acid and was not the innocent bystander he claimed. 

In a text sent to his sister, Collins wrote: 'mind that little hand wash in my car acid'

Police and ambulances outside the nightclub after what was one of the UK's worst acid attacks

'But these attacks were so random, there was nothing in that moment that meant I could see it was going to happen.' 

Collins was living with his parents in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire at the time of the attack.

He had started dating Ferne McCann in the summer of last year and they were in an on-off relationship until the time of his arrest.

Ms McCann posted pictures on Instagram of them on holiday in Dubai before the incident 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.

She suffered burns to her arms, chest and breasts and was driven to hospital by a friend

Collins then went out with his friend Andre Phoenix to celebrate and got into the row which led to the acid being thrown.

He claimed he overheard a group of men planning to spike a girl's drink and, after an argument broke out, he was handed the container of acid in the melee. He said he thought the liquid was a date rape drug, but the prosecution insisted otherwise.

Some victims told the trial how the their skin was 'coming off' and they could hear a hissing sound after the acid was thrown.

After launching a widespread search, police eventually tracked down Collins to a house in Northamptonshire.

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. 

During the trial, he was quizzed over a bottle in his car he had previously told his sister was 'acid' was actually amino acid shampoo to combat baldness.

After the verdicts today, Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Laurence said: 'Collins 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 people against whom he had inflicted serious injuries upon. 

Detective Chief Superintendent Laurence added: '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 now faces spending a significant length of time behind bars.

'I would personally like to thank the victims for their strength and bravery; in being forced by Collins to give evidence during the trial, they have had to re-live that night. 

'I can only hope that their continuing strength will enable them to face the rest of their lives in a normal as possible way. I hope that at least they will take some solace from knowing that Collins will be going to prison.' 

Victims call for life sentence for Collins after the attack ruined lives 

Two acid attack victims have called for tougher sentences for offenders after going through months of mental and physical rehabilitation therapy for their injuries.

Phoebe Georgiou, 23, and Lauren Trent, 22, were celebrating their birthdays when they were caught by the acid flung by Arthur Collins in the Mangle E8 nightclub in Dalston, east London, on April 17.

Once active and outgoing, Miss Georgiou now confines herself to her family home in north London and suffers night terrors and anxiety in crowded places.

'It's not just physically scarring, it's mentally which is the hardest,' she said.

'Now I have a life sentence to deal with, with scars and mental injuries. And I have to see a therapist about twice a week because I'm dealing with such bad anxiety and panic attacks and sleep paralysis.'

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

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.'

Miss Trent suffered first degree burns to her legs, feet, chest and neck.

Lauren Trent, who was celebrating her birthday when she was attack, called for a life sentence for Collins

Her friend, who was also caught in the attack, suffered facial burns and permanent scarring.

'I'm one of the lucky ones,' Miss Trent said. 'The thing that's in the back of my mind is that if I hadn't have bent down to pick up my bag, that would have been my face.'

Where the law is concerned, both women are unequivocal.

Miss Trent said: 'Victims have to live with those scars for life, so why shouldn't that be justified with a life sentence?

'When you throw it, you're intending to impact someone for the rest of their life so I think you pay the price with your life in prison.'

Miss Georgiou said: 'All the victims are put with a life sentence and people who take out these disgusting attacks, they need to get a much harsher sentence.' 

Miss Trent said: 'When I went into trial, seeing them I almost wanted to go up and ask, 'Why would you do something like this?' They couldn't even look at me.

'They will get their own karma. You get in life what you give out, so for people who want to do harm, things like that will come back to them.'

Ms Hall, from Bournemouth, Dorset, added: 'My face was burning and it felt like it was on fire and I couldn't see.

Isobella Fraser showed her injuries in the trial. Her case was not set out in the trial as she had returned to her native Australia

'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 more than 20 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 sitting 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

He was pictured inhaling from balloons during one of his series of trips to the sun

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 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.

At the height of their relationship, Ms McCann, who has worked on ITV's This Morning, also shared an intimate video of the couple in bed together with her fans through the Snapchat app.

The week of his arrest in April was supposed 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

He claimed he did not realise the liquid was acid but was convicted by the jury today

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. 

They later Tasered, arrested and charged him and he now faces a long jail term. 

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 couldn't hear what the row was about by tried to calm the situation down

Phoenix said he would just 'knock them out' if someone angered him, adding 'I don't roll with acid.'

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. 

'As serious a weapon as a knife': Rising toll of acid attacks in Britain

The number of acid attacks taking place in Britain is soaring, with school children as young as 13 using corrosive substances as weapons.

Crime statistics show that there was more than 450 acid attacks in London alone last year, with the number of attacks in the capital more than doubling since 2014.

But experts say the real figure is much higher, with the true scale of the problem hidden because people are afraid to come forward.

It is believed criminal gang members are carrying acid in drinks bottles because they are less likely to get caught than if they carry a knife or gun.

Schoolchildren as young as 13 have also told how 'squirting' rivals with acid is easier than trying to stab or fight them. 

Following today's case, Lily Saw from the CPS London said: 'Acid can be as much of a weapon as a knife with equally damaging consequences, and many of the victims of this attack suffered very serious injuries.

'There is understandable concern about this issue, and these convictions show that those who choose to use acid as a weapon can expect to face very serious criminal charges.'