Acid attacker Arthur Collins handed new jail term over smuggled mobile phone

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Acid attacker Arthur Collins has been jailed for another eight months for using a smuggled mobile phone to call his reality TV star ex-girlfriend Ferne McCann from his prison cell.

Collins, 25, is serving a 20-year sentence for hurling the corrosive liquid across a crowded dancefloor in an east London nightclub.

Last month, he admitted hiding a phone, two sim cards and two memory sticks inside a crutch while awaiting trial over the attack, which left 16 people with chemical burns and three people temporarily blinded.

Collins, from Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, claimed he had used the device to make private calls to then pregnant Ms McCann, who gave birth to their baby daughter, Sunday, in November.

His barrister, Rebecca Randall said the couple feared recorded prison phone calls were being leaked to the media, including one in which they discussed baby names.

The court heard the mother and two-month-old girl still occasionally visit Collins in high-security Belmarsh prison.

Appearing at Woolwich Crown Court by video-link sporting a full beard, Collins showed no emotion on Wednesday as he was 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 judge explained the eight-month prison term, consecutive to Collins’ current sentence, will add an extra four months onto his earliest release date, meaning he will serve at least 13 years and eight months.

The court heard the stash was discovered on September 10 last year when officers, acting on a tip-off, carried out a search of his cell at HMP Thameside in south-east London.

Prosecutor Arizuna Asante described how a Nokia stick mobile phone, two sim cards, two USB sticks and two charger leads were found when the rubber stopper at the end of Collins’ crutch was removed.

He was using the medical aid after injuring his feet trying to evade capture while on the run from police.

The prosecutor said illicit mobile phones can be used in prisons to arrange the smuggling of drugs and other items or to intimidate witnesses on the outside.

Mr Asante added: “In relation to Mr Collins himself, the mobile phone was analysed, the sim cards were analysed, and it is not part of the Crown’s case that he used the mobile phone for any of those things.

“The only evidence the Crown has is he did contact his family and friends using the mobile phone that was recovered.”

Collins’ barrister Rebecca Randall said Collins did not use the phone for “nefarious” reasons but out of “desperation”.

“The only reason Mr Collins had that phone was to contact, privately, his girlfriend and friends and family,” she said.

“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.”

She said Collins feared his 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,” Ms Randall added.

Collins sprayed a corrosive substance over a crowd on the dance floor at Mangle E8 nightclub in Dalston, east London, in April last year.

He told his trial at Wood Green Crown Court he did not know the bottle contained acid, believing it to contain a liquid date rape drug, which he had snatched from two men after overhearing them planning to spike a girl’s drink.

The jury convicted him of five counts of grievous bodily harm with intent and nine counts of actual bodily harm in November.

He was handed a 20-year jail sentence and made subject to five further years on extended licence.

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