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Acid victim attacked by 'friend jealous of her looks'

SCARRED FOR LIFE: Victim Naomi Oni, 21, pictured here before and after the attack

A UNIVERSITY student disguised herself in Muslim dress and threw acid in her own friend’s face because she was jealous of her good looks, a court heard yesterday.

Mary Konye, 21, is accused of following Naomi Oni home from work before attacking the Victoria’s Secret shop assistant in a Dagenham street, east London, on December 30, 2012.

The court heard how mobile phone records showed Konye in the area the night Oni was attacked.

“Gareth Patterson, prosecuting, said: “The phones of both young women were using the same cell site about the same time. The prosecution says that was because Naomi was being followed by the defendant and the defendant was the person who carried out the attack.”

This allegedly contradicted her previous claim to police that she was, “tucked-up” in bed in Canning Town when the attack happened at 12.24am in Dagenham.

Oni, also 21, ran home in fear of her life, where her family tried frantically to wash off the acid, but she lost skin from her face and has permanent scarring across her body, Snaresbrook Crown Court was told.

Konye – whose clothes tested positive for sulphuric acid – is alleged to have told a friend she wanted to throw acid at Oni but denies the attack.

The Hertfordshire University business and finance student knew that Oni – a friend since secondary school – had been deeply moved by the widely reported case of model Katie Piper, jurors heard.

Piper was left badly scarred and blind in one eye after she had sulphuric acid thrown in her face in a 2008 attack arranged by her ex-boyfriend Daniel Lynch.

Patterson told jurors: “Naomi will tell you about her friendship with the defendant. She will tell you how in the past they had an up and down relationship and how the defendant had admitted to her that on one occasion in anger she threatened to throw acid at Naomi.

“There was a reason why the defendant would have chosen to make such an unusual sort of threat. In the past the two of them had discussed a young woman called Katie Piper. Naomi and the defendant had discussed this and it appears that the defendant knew that Naomi had been particularly moved by Katie Piper’s ordeal.

“Naomi stated that she and the defendant had fallen out in the past and says that there was an occasion during a row when she called the defendant ugly. She says they were later back on speaking terms and that [Konye] said to her that she had been so angry at the time that she had said to someone else that she wanted to throw acid at Naomi.”

Oni was described in court as a "good-looking young woman" interested in fashion and beauty.

The court heard she left work at Westfield Stratford City, in east London, at around 11.30pm with four colleagues who all worked there.

CCTV footage showed to jurors showed a figure in a niqab with only her eyes visible trailing them. She had a distinctive walk, Patterson said.

Oni, who took to the stand on Tuesday, January 7, broke down as she recalled the attack.

She said: "I remember feeling a strong presence directly looking at me. The figure was on the pavement far away. It was at a distance, not close to me, further than arms length. Figure was to my left,” Oni told jurors.

Oni got on the 368 bus which took her near her home. After disembarking at her local bus stop, she was talking to her boyfriend Ayo, while carrying a Victoria’s Secret shopping bag including some chicken wings and chips inside she had bought.

Oni continued: “I remember [the figure] being very still and its face was not visible. The figure was covered and wearing a niqab [a Muslim veil] and I could see its eyes.

"I jumped within myself. I was still on the phone.

"I was trying to calm myself down, looked side to side. As I turned my head I felt a splash on my face. As I felt the splash, I immediately knew and felt someone was trying to kill me. So I [ran] as fast as I [could] and [screamed] as loud as I could to get home.”

Oni’s mother described her as "crying hysterically" when she arrived home in Dagenham. Her family said her hair weave was "dissolving", as were her leggings and her top.

Oni said she could not understand what she had done to deserve this: “I asked my family if I was a bad person, I was saying that I worked hard why did this happen to me.”

The court heard that she suffered “visible burning to her nose, cheeks and chin and also to her right wrist, hand, stomach area and left thigh”.

Oni, who has since had a skin graft to her face, nearly lost her sight and suffered significant scarring on her body.

Konye, of Canning Town, east London, was later arrested. She told police her friend was indeed ‘very attractive’, but denied being jealous of her looks.

She denies throwing or casting a corrosive fluid with intent to burn, maim, disfigure, disable or do grievous bodily harm.

The case continues.

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