A young woman who had acid thrown in her face by her friend has told how she considered killing herself after suffering life-changing scars as her “evil” attacker was jailed today.
Business student Mary Konye (22) disguised herself in a Muslim veil before throwing sulphuric acid at Naomi Oni, a Victoria's Secret shop assistant, after following her home from work.
Ms Oni (22) was left scarred for life after suffering serious burns on her face and chest following the incident in Dagenham, east London, on December 30th, 2012.
Judge David Radford, who sentenced Konye to 12 years at London's Snaresbrook Crown Court, said the consequences of her "premeditated", "callous" and "wicked act have been devastating to Ms Oni".
Konye, who was convicted in January, looked straight ahead from the dock and showed no reaction as she was sentenced.
Ms Oni, who did not attend the sentencing, said she was now “paranoid and scared” about being outdoors alone and admitted having suicidal thoughts.
In a statement read to the court by prosecutor Gareth Patterson, the victim said that, before the attack, she was a "confident" young woman with a job she enjoyed.
“All this changed that day I was struck with acid and my life was turned upside down,” she said.
Ms Oni said she had suffered permanent scars to her leg, chest, stomach and arms and was almost blinded in one eye. She must wear a silicon face mask which makes it difficult to breathe, the court heard.
Ms Oni said: “I’m reminded what I look like every day I look in the mirror or see the reaction on people’s faces...The whole traumatic experience has changed my life.”
Ms Oni said she regretted ever being friends with Konye.
She added: “It was bad enough believing it was a random attack. Knowing Mary planned this is beyond belief...I don’t trust people in the same way any more.”
During her trial, the jury heard that Konye pretended to give Ms Oni a shoulder to cry on following the attack.
Konye used the ”implausible” excuse that it had been Ms Oni who planned the incident because she wanted ”fame and fortune and to sell her story to the paper”, police said.
CCTV footage obtained by police after the attack showed Konye in a niqab following Ms Oni as she left work at the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford at about 11.30pm.
The jury heard that, the day after the attack, Konye sent a mobile phone message to Ms Oni, who was in hospital receiving treatment, saying: ”OMG, I can’t believe it.”
The pair, who had been friends since secondary school, fell out in April 2011 when Ms Oni allegedly accused Konye of texting her boyfriend and called her an ”ugly monster”.
Konye, of Canning Town, east London, denied throwing or casting a corrosive fluid with intent to burn, maim, disfigure, disable or do grievous bodily harm.
Her lawyer Sally O’Neill QC told the court Konye has since admitted throwing the acid following her conviction but maintained she did not intend to cause injury to Ms Oni’s face.
“The reason for this incident will always be shrouded in some doubt and mystery,” Ms O’Neill said.
She added that Konye was an “immature 22-year-old” with a possible personality disorder and had been threatened by other inmates while in prison awaiting sentencing.
Delivering his sentence, Judge Radford said: “This was clearly premeditated criminality planned against a person who reasonably believed you were a true friend.”
The judge said Konye had been “deliberately untruthful” during the trial after she admitted throwing the acid following her conviction.
Mr Radford said Ms Oni’s life had been “ruined” along with her trust in friends.
“Her friendship had been so wilfully betrayed by you,” he said.
In a statement read by her solicitor Mitesh Patel outside court, Ms Oni said: “My attacker’s sentence will end but I will have to live with my injuries and disabilities for the rest of my life.
“Almost every aspect of my life has been adversely affected by this unprovoked attack.”