Warning: Graphic content.

The ex-boyfriend of TOWIE star Ferne McCann today winked at his family when he was jailed for 20 years after he squirted acid across a packed nightclub dancefloor.

Arthur Collins, 25, hurled the corrosive liquid across the club in east London during a tit-for-tat gang war and later branded the crime "a silly little mistake".

The horrific incident left 22 innocent clubbers injured, several of whom confronted him in court today, with one woman recalling the moment she felt her skin "come off".

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Arthur Collins (pictured with Ferne McCann) was today jailed for 20 years after he hurled acid over innocent clubbers. Photo / Instagram
Arthur Collins (pictured with Ferne McCann) was today jailed for 20 years after he hurled acid over innocent clubbers. Photo / Instagram

Handing him a 25-year sentence, which included an extended licence of five years, Judge Noel Lucas QC branded Collins a "calculating liar".

He also said Collins, the father of McCann's baby daughter, has not shown the "slightest remorse" after the "deliberate and calculated attack".

A text message to his sister further proves that the attack was planned.

He claimed he thought it was a date rape drug which he snatched off another group, sparking a row.

But a week before, on April 10, he sent an iMessage to his sister Chenade Rowe saying: "Tell mum to mind that little hand wash in my car acid."

He claimed this was a reference to hair-thickening shampoo, which contained amino acid, which he disguised from McCann.

The text message that confirmed Collins knew about the acid.
The text message that confirmed Collins knew about the acid.

Outside court one of his victims said those who were injured had "been left with permanent scars for the rest of our lives".

Meanwhile, another victim bravely described the harrowing moment she had to phone her parents on her birthday night out to tell them her skin was "coming off".

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Collins, of Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, was convicted of five counts of causing GBH with intent and nine counts of assault occasioning ABH, relating to 14 revellers.

During the sentencing hearing at Wood Green Crown Court, the judge ruled that Collins was "dangerous" - meaning he will serve at least two-thirds of the jail term.

His family wept and shouted "love you, Arth" after the sentence was delivered. He winked at his family as he was led to the cells.

Judge Lucas said: "Your case has attracted a great deal of public interest.

"This is because what you did at the Mangle club on Easter Sunday evening was a despicable act.

"The conclusion I have come to is that you deliberately carried strong acid into that club to use when the need arised. The CCTV showed the wholly cowardly nature of the attack.

"Mr Collins' contrived defence is in my judgment significant. It shows him to be an accomplished and calculating liar.'"

Rejecting an apology in a letter by Collins, the judge said: "It was a hollow sorry - not for what he had done, but for the effect of his actions.

"He has expressed not the least remorse for carrying and using a highly corrosive acid.

"The injuries must have been extremely painful and utterly terrifying."

The judge added: "My very clear impression is that the security arrangements within the club venue were extremely poor."

Sophie Hall and Lauren Trent were caught up in the acid attack. Photo / Instagram
Sophie Hall and Lauren Trent were caught up in the acid attack. Photo / Instagram

Rejecting a life sentence, although the attack was "utterly despicable and life changing", he said "no one was blinded permanently and life itself was not in danger". But added an extended sentence was "necessary".

Judge Lucas added: "The carrying and use of corrosive fluid is now a significant and growing problem in London, and in particular in the east of London.

"I am quite satisfied the sentences I pass on Mr Collins will amply convey to the wider community the seriousness the courts will treat such offending."

He said Collins had carried it out because of "some minor perceived slight".

Andre Phoenix, 21, of Tottenham, north London, was in the club and cleared of four counts of GBH with intent, four alternative counts of unlawfully inflicting GBH, and two counts of ABH.

Judge Lucas said: "You crept around behind Mr Phoenix and deliberately threw what you knew to be strong acid directly towards Mr Brown's face.

"In throwing acid three times you displayed not the least concern for those on who the acid would land." He said Collins knew "precisely" the effects of strong acid.

Judge Lucas continued: "Having thrown acid in the darkness of that club, you slunk away into the rear where you hid and pretended to be unconnected to the mayhem you caused.

"While making much of the harsh circumstances of your arrest, you have demonstrated not the least remorse.

"It was a deliberate and calculating act and you were intent on causing really serious harm to your victims.'"

One of the victims, Sophie Hall, spoke outside court after the hearing and said her attacker has not shown "any signs of remorse".

She said: "After the result today, I do feel like justice has been served. The last eight, nine months of our lives have been hell.

Arthur Collins on CCTV in the nightclub.
Arthur Collins on CCTV in the nightclub.

"Arthur didn't show any signs of remorse in court. His actions are something he is going to have to live with.

"And also the scars I have been left with are something I am going to have look at every time I look in the mirror; every time I get changed; every time I take my clothes off.

"We have been left with permanent scars for the rest of our lives. We were hoping for a life sentence. But I am very pleased with the sentence that he has received today."

Lauren Trent was another one of the clubbers injured and gave an emotional account of how her birthday night out turned to horror in court today.

Trent told the court: "It was 1.45am in the morning, that's the time my parents received a phone call from me. Imagine that phone call was your daughter on her 22nd birthday, and you were stuck two hours away in your home town.

"She tells you her skin is coming off in her hands from her neck. All she can see in the bathroom is people screaming."

Addressing Collins as she fought back tears, Trent added: "I was celebrating my birthday that night when you threw acid across the dance floor.

"Forever my birthday will be the anniversary of the night I was involved in an acid attack.

"A place I should have been safe, and a place where hundreds of innocent people were that night.

Arthur Collins, the drug dealing boyfriend of reality TV star Ferne McCann, injured more than 20 clubbers when he threw acid across a nightclub dancefloor. Photo / Metropolitan Police
Arthur Collins, the drug dealing boyfriend of reality TV star Ferne McCann, injured more than 20 clubbers when he threw acid across a nightclub dancefloor. Photo / Metropolitan Police

"You changed not only my life, my best friend's life, my family, my friends and your life."

She added: "Just because my scars appear small to you or remain hidden, they are huge to me."

Collins is the father of TOWIE star McCann's newborn daughter, who was born during his trial. She claimed they will not visit him in prison.

He hurled the substance over a crowd at the Mangle E8 in Dalston, east London, on April 17.

The court heard Collins, who wore a t-shirt with "CANDY KILLER" on, was celebrating his girlfriend's pregnancy at the Love Juice event, having told her family just hours before.

But he got into a row on the VIP dancefloor with three men at about 1am and sprayed acid at them three times, which splashed onto bystanders and burnt them.

Collins went on the run until April 22, when he was Tasered and arrested after jumping out of the first floor window of his Northamptonshire bolthole, fracturing both heel bones.

In mitigation George Carter-Stephenson QC, defending, said Collins had played football for Colchester and Watford.

He added: "Had his injury not occurred he may have had a career in football. But he went into the family business because he was no longer able to play."

He said Collins had a "very low" IQ and, referring to a psychologist's report, added: "Mr Collins had enjoyed the thought of being with somebody in the public eye, but the reality of the situation was difficult for him.

"Especially given his relative naivety and cognitive ability. There may be a want to live up to what he should be in the public eye."

Lawyers for Collins trawled through victims' social media posts to prove they had returned to "some normality", including holiday snaps they presented to the judge.

Luke Ponte, prosecuting, said: "One might think all that they show is young people trying with some fortitude to get on with their lives."

The injuries Lauren Trent sustained. Photo / Instagram
The injuries Lauren Trent sustained. Photo / Instagram

And the judge said: What some people consider a minor injury, others consider the most shameful injury imaginable."

At his sentencing hearing today, the court heard he referred to the attack as a "stupid little mistake", in a letter to the judge.

The court was told of a string of offences Collins committed before April's acid attack. His past offences included a police caution for threatening the mother of a former girlfriend with acid and calling her a "f****** foreigner" in April 2013.

The acid attack happened while Collins was subject to a suspended sentence for a vicious assault on a man in a south London nightclub in 2015, the court heard today.

Giving her impact statement, another victim, Phoebe Georgiou, said today: "I mourn the old Phoebe. The happy, confident young woman I once was. I grieve for her everyday.

"Physically and mentally I will never be the same. I have had to relive these harrowing moments daily. I was scared, traumatised and helpless.

"I thought my pain and suffering would never end. My entire summer was filled with trips to hospital and therapy treatment. I haven't stepped into a bar, club or even crowded space since that night.

"I have been given a life sentence because of you. But I am growing stronger every day."

And Sophie Hall, 22, who also broke down on the stand, said: "I was in extreme pain, and my skin and eyes were burning.

"I was in terrible pain. I couldn't see properly. I was crying, I was in shock, sat on the floor.

"My clothes had all melted. It was absolute mayhem going on around me. I was screaming in agony. I was frightened I was going to be blind.

"Every time I look in the mirror I can see my scars. And even though they are healed considerably eight months later, I am scarred on my face, arms and shoulders.

"The doctors have told me I will always be scarred for the rest of life."

Following the harrowing victim personal statements, Carter-Stephenson QC produced sheaves of posts taken from the victims' social media accounts apparently proving their lives had returned to some kind of normality.

The judge was shown images of the girls in swimsuits on holiday and out in nightclubs.

Mr Carter-Stephenson said: "What I want you to do is simply appreciate that there has to be balance and to a certain extent they have returned to some normality following this.

"These victim personal statements give the impression that this has been all prevailing and has pervaded into every area of their lives and that's simply not correct."

Isobella Fraser suffered burns to her back and arm when she was caught up in the acid attack. Photo / Isobella Fraser
Isobella Fraser suffered burns to her back and arm when she was caught up in the acid attack. Photo / Isobella Fraser

He said he was not trying to undermine the victims, but added: "It's important that the court doesn't create an imbalance against Mr Collins."

He added the fact the victims had healed to a certain extent was "more good fortune than down to Mr Collins, but having said so it is an important feature".

A total of 22 people reported injuries, 16 of whom suffered chemical burn injuries and three people were temporarily blinded - one of whom still suffers from blurred vision in one eye.

It was thought the attack was part of a feud between rival gangs which "spiralled out of control".

Prosecutor Ciro D'Alessio told a pre-trial hearing that the acid attack "bears the hallmarks of both drug-related activity and gang related activity".

Police had found a fully functioning cannabis farm, along with weapons including a Taser and two cans of CS gas at Collins' home.

"This was essentially an incident between one set of gang members against another set of gang members," D'Alessio told a previous court hearing.

He said police intelligence suggested Collins had "been both on the giving end and receiving end of previous gangland incidents leading up to this."

Collins admitted throwing the bottle of fluid over clubbers but said he did not know it was acid.