NATIONAL NEWS: Towie star's ex-boyfriend 'threw acid in crowded nightclub'

Arthur Collins. Photo credit: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire
Arthur Collins. Photo credit: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire

The ex-boyfriend of reality TV star Ferne McCann, wearing a T-shirt with the word "Killer" across the front, threw acid in a club full Bank Holiday revellers, a court has heard.

Arthur Collins, 25, who is also the father of The Only Way Is Essex star McCann's unborn child, and co-defendant Andre Phoenix were charged after clubbers were doused with a corrosive substance at the Wringer and Mangle nightclub in Dalston, east London, on April 17.

Ferne McCann. Photo credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire

Ferne McCann. Photo credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire

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 Clyde Road, Tottenham, denies the same offences.

Prosecutor Luke Ponte told Wood Green Crown Court the incident started with an altercation between a group of men, with some pushing and shoving.

He added: "It is not clear exactly 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 a bottle or a container of acid into the face of another young man.

"As that man went down in pain, the aggressor threw acid a second time directed towards another man, and then threw acid a third time."

Jurors heard that 16 people on the crowded dancefloor at the popular nightclub were injured in the attack.

Mr Ponte said: "There is no question as to who threw the acid.

"It was Arthur Collins. He does not dispute that he threw the acid and it is perhaps not surprising that he does not dispute it as the confrontation, the first throw, the second throwing and the third throwing are all captured quickly but clearly 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."

Jurors were shown CCTV of Collins and Phoenix arriving at the club at about 9pm before getting into a confrontation with a group of men around four hours later.

At around 1am Collins is seen throwing a liquid towards one of the men on the dancefloor.

The court heard that a number of people were injured in the incident, with varying degrees of severity.

This included Phoenix, who was splashed with the unidentified substance which had a pH level of 1.

Jurors were told that after the incident Collins asked one of the clubbers - Tamara-Jane Castle, who is also named on the indictment as a victim, to "take a picture of my mate's face".

Mr Ponte said: "Why did Mr Collins want a photograph? 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 he was a victim, rather than an attacker. This was before he had seen the CCTV."

Collins and Phoenix were soon identified from the footage, in which Collins could be seen wearing a t-shirt with the word "killer" written on it.

Phoenix was arrested on April 21 but Collins was not apprehended until a few days later because initially he "could not be found".

Collins was arrested at an unfurnished property in Northamptonshire, with officers shouting "police" and forcing entry.

The court was told Collins jumped out of the first floor window in his t-shirt and underwear to try to get away, before being Tasered by officers.

Jurors also heard that Collins sent an iMessage to his his sister one week before the acid attack, saying: "Tell mum to Mind that little hand wash in my car acid".

The court was told Collins allegedly heard one of the men injured by the acid talking about spiking a girl's drink.

Makai Brown told jurors he attended the club with his cousin Kwami Licorish, and two friends - Ruam Mota and a man called Alex.

Jurors have been shown footage of the night in which Mr Brown and a group of men walk through the club and down a set of stairs to an area where the defendants previously made their way.

George Carter-Stephenson QC, defending Collins, asked Mr Brown about a conversation he had with Mr Mota at the stop of the stairs.

He said: "You were talking about spiking someone's drink, at the top of the stairs, weren't you?

"One of you said 'no, you spike her, you do it'."

Mr Brown, who played a soft drum roll on the witness box before stating his name at the start of giving evidence, replied: "Is this what we are going to do, talk about me spiking someone? Really?

"I am not going to answer it. I refuse to answer that question."

When told by Judge Noel Lucas that he had to answer, Mr Brown said he had not had a conversation about spiking someone's drink.

Mr Carter-Stephenson then asked if Collins, who had been standing at the bottom of the stairs, called Mr Brown a "dickhead".

But Mr Brown denied any altercation taking place, or any aggression, stating the first time he saw Collins was on the news.

Collins's case is that he told Mr Brown "you are dickheads, you are not spiking anyone" at which stage the complainant told him not to speak to him like that, and threatened to spike him.

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.

He also 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.

The trial continues at 10.15am on Wednesday.