'Boyfriend gave doctor lethal acid as revenge'

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A doctor was left in excruciating pain after her former boyfriend gave her sulphuric acid and then watched her suffer for 23 minutes before calling an ambulance, a court was told yesterday. She died the next day.

A doctor was left in excruciating pain after her former boyfriend gave her sulphuric acid and then watched her suffer for 23 minutes before calling an ambulance, a court was told yesterday. She died the next day.

The jury was told that, while the acid "was burning through the walls of her stomach and... into her internal organs," Andrew Gardner, a laboratory technician, called a plumber to ask about the effect of swallowing acid.

Mr Gardner, 41, who denies murder, could not accept that his relationship with 27-year-old Karenina Longe was over and had already beaten her up.

On 5 February this year, when she arrived at about midday at the rented house they shared in New Coventry Road in Sheldon, Birmingham, hesomehow administered the acid contained in a drain cleaner.

Dr Longe died the following day in Birmingham's Heartlands Hospital, where she worked, the jury was told.

Stephen Linehan QC, for the prosecution, said at Birmingham Crown Court: "Nina Longe was murdered. She didn't die by 2.03pm, but by that time Andrew Gardner had administered to her a lethal dose of acid. By 2.03pm, she was suffering the torments of hell. The acid was burning through the walls of her stomach and burning its way into her internal organs.

"It's almost impossible to imagine. But if you had seen or heard her, you would not need to imagine. Andrew Gardner was there. He witnessed it and he heard the agony she was in."

Mr Linehan told the jury that as Dr Longe suffered an "agonising death", Mr Gardner concocted a story that the senior house officer had deliberately drunk the drain cleaner to harm herself and had complained of feeling unwell as they made love. But before the ambulance arrived, Mr Gardner had fled to London, taking her credit cards. He was eventually arrested on 29 February, when he told police Dr Longe had taken the acid.

Nigerian-born Dr Longe was sent to boarding school in England, where she was head girl and gained four A-levels before winning a place to study medicine at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London.

Mr Linehan said: "She was in fact a lovely young woman with everything to live for. Her one misfortune was to meet the defendant, Andrew Gardner. It's really a grotesque understatement to call it a misfortune as it was to lead to her death."

Mr Gardner began a relationship with Dr Longe and gave up his job to follow her to Birmingham. They moved into rented accommodation with his teenage son from a previous relationship.

But the arrangement did not work out, the court was told. Mr Gardner did not find work and drank, which led to arguments. Dr Longe moved back into doctors' quarters at the hospital after being attacked by him.

The week before her death, Dr Longe had told Mr Gardner they should stop seeing each other. But Mr Gardner was "not willing to let her go", said Mr Linehan. It was unclear how she swallowed the drain cleaning fluid, but it could have been a "last toast" offered by Mr Gardner before they went their separate ways, he said.

The jury heard a recording of an emergency call made by Mr Gardner, on which Dr Longe's screams could be heard. Mr Gardner told the operator: "My girlfriend's done something silly. She's drunk sulphuric acid."

The case continues.

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