Friday, 21 March 2014

Live: Student Mary Konye jailed for 12 years for acid attack on friend Naomi Oni

The 21-year-old left her former friend scarred for life after carrying out the horrific attack dressed in a Muslim veil

Mary Konye has been sentenced to 12 years in jail at Snarebrook Crown Court.
Her victim Naomi Oni was not in court for the hearing today.
2:18 pm
During the trial, 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.
2:16 pm
Ms Oni said she had suffered permanent scars to her leg, chest, stomach and arms and was almost blinded in one eye.
She faces further reconstructive surgery and 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.
"I initially felt angry and hurt.
"All sorts of things kept going through my mind.
"I sometimes cry when I'm alone.
"At times I felt suicidal and thought about ending it all."
Ms Oni said her mother, who was in court for the hearing, had kept her going but their relationship was sometimes "strained" after they had been forced to move into a hostel.
She added: "I feel paranoid and scared going out alone.
"People often stare at me. Some ask what happened to my face.
"I'm still scared of being attacked again."
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 anymore."
Ms Oni said she had been affected financially and had not worked for a year.
She said found it "embarrassing" telling people about the "unusual and strange" incident.
"I'm going to have these scars as a reminder forever," she said.
"Maybe I feel violated. The person who did this has left their mark on me."
Ms Oni said the attack was carried out by "an evil, wicked person".
She added: "The fact she never admitted what she did to me adds insult to injury.
"I feel I have been part of a game to her."
2:13 pm
Naomi Oni was so scarred for life after Mary Konye threw acid on her face, she considered killing herself after being "violated" by her "evil" attacker.
In a statement read to the court by prosecutor Gareth Patterson, Ms Oni said was now "paranoid and scared" about being outdoors alone.
The victim, who did not attend the hearing, told the court 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.
It was now a "battle to get by each day" after being permanently disfigured, she added.
1:49 pm
The sentencing of Mary Konye was originally scheduled for 11.15am today but there has been some delay.
We are now expecting the hearing to begin at around 2.15pm.
We will bring you all the latest from Snaresbrook Crown Court as it happens.
1:17 pm
Naomi Oni said that earlier in the trial Konye had appeared almost disappointed that she had not been injured more severely.
Throughout their school life, Ms Oni and Konye became friends despite the early signs of Konye's obsession starting to grow.

PAMary Konye court case
Mary Konye who has been found guilty at London's Snaresbrook Crown Court

At one point she projected a large image of Ms Oni onto a whiteboard and copied the clothes that she wore.
She also said that Konye tried to take her boyfriend, Stephen, after an argument between them
She sent anonymous text messages including one that accused her of "sleeping about".
The couple knew it was likely that Konye was behind the message and they confronted her.
Ms Oni said: "She later said she was so angry she considered throwing acid in my face. She told other people this. Obviously now I realise she was planning what happened."
12:39 pm

ITVNaomi Oni on This Morning
Naomi Oni on This Morning

During the trial, brave Naomi recalled the moment the acid was thrown in her face.
“As I felt the splash I ­immediately had the feeling somebody was trying to kill me," she said.
"My instinct was to run and scream as loud as I could.”
Naomi said she was “hysterical” as her parents dialled 999 while she tried to wash herself in the bath.
She went on: “It was a dissolving type of sensation. I was saying nobody is ever going to marry me now.”
She suffered serious burns to her face and chest, lost her hair and eyelashes, and required skin graft surgery to cover the burns.
12:03 pm
During Konye's trial, the court was shown CCTV footage of Naomi as she left work at the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford at around 11.30pm, shadowed by a stalker wearing a niqab.
Prosecutors alleged Konye wanted revenge against Naomi after rows and knew of her admiration for model Katie Piper – another acid attack victim.
Jurors also heard a claim that Konye changed her online profile photo to scarred horror villain Freddie Krueger after Naomi was attacked.
11:32 am
Mr Whellams said the true reason behind the attack had not been established.
"They can't tell me really what the argument is - it's fashion, it's boyfriends, it's everyday things," he said.
Judge David Radford warned that Konye faces jail when he sentences her at the same court today.
"I should make clear that, in my judgment, this is a case that will, in all likelihood, need a substantial custodial sentence," he 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 around 11.30pm.
The victim lost her hair and eyelashes, and required skin graft surgery to cover her burns.
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."
It is thought to have been a copycat attack mimicking the one suffered by model and TV presenter Katie Piper, who was badly scarred and left blind in one eye in an assault arranged by her ex-boyfriend, Daniel Lynch, in 2008.
Ms Oni told the court that Konye was aware of how much of an impact Ms Piper's ordeal had had on her after watching a television documentary about 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.
11:20 am
Following the attack, Konye pretended to give Ms Oni a shoulder to cry on.
She then 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.
Speaking outside London's Snaresbrook Crown Court after she was convicted in January, Detective Chief Inspector Dave Whellams said it had been a "serious, horrible offence which required a degree of planning and calculation".
He told reporters that witnesses had testified in court that Konye planned the attack over the course of two years.
"She has prepared for this over a number of months, even years, all resulting from a trivial, insignificant argument that everybody has in their everyday lives," he said.
"But Mary Konye has taken this so far that she has planned this, disguised herself and followed Naomi on that night.
"The result today will give Naomi only some comfort but she is never going to be away from the fact that she is scarred.
"Every time she looks in the mirror she is going to be reminded of the fact but it will enable her to start to get some closure."
10:53 am
Welcome to our live blog as we cover the sentencing of Mary Konye - the student who carried out a vicious acid attack on her friend.
She faces jail today after leaving her friend scarred for life over a "trivial, insignificant" argument.
Business student Mary Konye, 21, disguised herself in a Muslim veil and attacked Naomi Oni after following her home from work.
Ms Oni, also 21, a Victoria's Secret shop assistant, was left with serious burns on her face and chest after the incident in Dagenham, east London, on December 30 2012.

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