Arthur Collins: Acid attacker jailed for further eight months after smuggling mobile phone into prison inside crutch

Lawyers say convict used device to call his pregnant girlfriend, Ferne McCann

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Wednesday 17 January 2018 13:07
Police release CCTV of Ferne McCann's ex-boyfiend Arthur Collins acid attack in night club

Acid attacker Arthur Collins has been jailed for a further eight months for smuggling a mobile phone into prison inside a crutch.

The 25-year-old will serve the sentence at the end of the 20-year term he is already serving for launching an acid attack that injured 16 people in a London nightclub.

He hid the device alongside two sim cards and two memory sticks while on remand in September so he could call his pregnant girlfriend in private, Woolwich Crown Court heard.

Collins admitted hiding the phone, which his lawyer said was used “not for any sinister purpose” but to privately speak to the reality television star Ferne McCann.

His barrister, Rebecca Randall, said: “The only reason Mr Collins had that phone was to contact, privately, his girlfriend and friends and family.

"His girlfriend at the time was heavily pregnant with his first child.

"That child is now two months old and occasionally visits him with its mother and his sister.”

Police want to speak to Arthur Collins, boyfriend of a reality TV star, in connection with an attack in a nightclub

Ms Randall said Collins feared his automatically recorded prison phone calls to Ms McCann were being leaked to the media, including one in which they discussed baby names.

“He had a conversation with his girlfriend and it appeared in the press a little time later,” the lawyer told the court.

A custody officer at HMP Thameside who removed the rubber stopper from the bottom of the crutch found the mobile phone with a sim card, a second sim card and two chargers.

In the crutch handle, officers also found two USBs. No calls or messages were stored on the phone but the sim cards contained evidence of communication between Collins and family.

Collins was using the crutch because he injured his ankle while on the run from police after dousing at least 16 victims, including three who were temporarily blinded, with corrosive liquid in a London nightclub.

He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for hurling the acid across the Mangle E8 dancefloor in Dalston last April.

Arthur Collins perpetrating an acid attack at the Mangle E8 nightclub in London

Collins, from Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, appeared at Woolwich Crown Court by video link from high-security HMP Belmarsh prison.

He showed no emotion while being sentenced for a single charge of possessing a prohibited item while in prison.

Judge Nicholas Heathcote Williams said: “The presence of a mobile phone or component part such as a sim card has many implications, not only for the prison establishment, but also the wider environment.

"It provides a prisoner or prisoners with an opportunity to communicate they would otherwise not have.

“This therefore allows them to act in a way prison is supposed to prevent them from doing.”

The number of recorded acid attacks in the UK have risen to record levels in the past year, sparking the proposal of new laws that would criminalise carrying corrosive substances without good reason.

Police have been hampered by the current law, which means that officers need adequate suspicion to stop potential attackers or proof of malicious intent, and are unable to test seized substances in the street.

Large retailers have signed a voluntary agreement to restrict sales to over-18s and demand identification, while the Government is considered other measures to prevent the sale of potential weapons.

Additional reporting by PA