Mary Konye, 21, disguised herself in an Islamic veil showing only her eyes, and followed Naomi Oni home in East London before allegedly dousing her in the corrosive acid. Ms Oni, 21, who worked at Victoria’s Secret lingerie shop, suffered horrific burns on her face and chest, lost her hair and eyelashes and was left scarred for life in the alleged attack on December 30 2012.
Snaresbrook Crown Court heard that Konye, who was studying business and finance at Hertfordshire University, had been close friends with Ms Oni since secondary school.
But she was envious of the shop worker’s good looks, and the pair had rowed in the past leading Konye to attack her with acid previously, it is alleged.
Konye knew Ms Oni had been deeply ‘moved’ by Katie Piper, a model and TV presenter who was badly scarred and left blind in one eye after she was attacked with acid in an ambush arranged by her ex-boyfriend, Daniel Lynch.
Knowing this, Konye decided to launch the copycat attack, jurors were told.
The court heard Ms Oni left work at the Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford, East London, at around 11.30pm with several colleagues.
But she was oblivious to the fact she was being closely followed by Konye wearing a full niqab, a hooded black coat, gloves and a grey bag, jurors heard.
CCTV showed the university student had ‘lingered waiting to see the victim’ at Stratford and ‘tailed’ her home always making sure to keep a few steps behind her, the court heard.
On the phone to her boyfriend throughout the journey, she stopped off at takeaway to pick up some food and got the 368 bus to her house.
Unaware she was being followed, she got off the bus at Lodge Avenue, a few hundred yards away from her house.
But she suddenly became aware of a presence behind her and spun around to see someone in a niqab who lobbed a glass of acid at her.
Gareth Patterson, prosecuting, told jurors that Konye had threatened to attack Ms Oni with acid on another occasion after the pair rowed.
He said: ‘Naomi will tell you about her friendship with the defendant.
‘In particular 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.
‘She was a woman who had acid thrown at her and that attack had been reported in the media.
‘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 that they were later back on speaking terms and importantly, that the defendant said to her that she (the defendant) had been so angry at the time that she had said to someone else, a friend of the defendant’s called Kamilah Andrews, that she (the defendant) wanted to throw acid at Naomi.
‘Naomi believed that the defendant had realised just how upset she had been by Katie Piper’s horrible ordeal.’
Mr Patterson said: ‘She could not see the face of the person, just the light-brown coloured skin around the eyes.
‘She believed it was a female. The woman was staring at her.
‘All of a sudden Naomi felt a liquid being thrown into her face. She screamed and immediately felt her face burning.
‘She could smell her skin and hair burning. She immediately ran home.
‘Naomi’s boyfriend Ato Owede was still on the phone with her at the time of the attack. He describes how he was chatting with her when suddenly he heard his girlfriend scream.’
The liquid immediately burnt through her skin and clothes and left her face blistered.
Screaming and shouting ‘acid’ she ran to her house in Dagenham and desperately tried to wash the harmful liquid off before being rushed to Broomfield Hospital for specialist treatment for her burns.
Her house was packed with relatives who were staying for the Christmas and New Year holiday and frantically tried to help the young shop worker wash the acid off.
The skin on her face and part of her neck has turned white and peeled off, and there was also burning to her nose, cheeks and chin, right wrist, hand, stomach and left thigh.
She had to spend a month in hospital undergoing intensive treatment for her injuries.
Specialist cops who deal with chemical spills tested the clothes and a pool of water at Ms Oni’s home.
They found that her burnt out clothes and the pool of water all had a ph level of 1 – the most acidic.
Her cardigan had ‘melted, producing a black tar-like material’ and had a ‘pronounced acrid smell’.
They believe she was doused with sulphuric acid, which is used in the chemical industry and found in batteries and drain cleaners.
Konye, who was arrested on February 22 last year, denied carrying out the attack or ever threatening to throw acid at Naomi.
Mr Patterson said: ‘She described the victim as being very attractive and said she believed the victim had wanted to work in make-up.
‘She said they had had quite a few fallings out, including one very big one, however she said she did not remember ever saying she was going to attack Naomi with acid.
‘She denied being in any way jealous of the victim’s looks.’
He added: ‘She agreed that she and the victim had previously spoken about the acid attack on Katie Piper.’
But she denied carrying out the attack or knowing who did it.
Jurors were told there is mobile phone evidence placing Konye on the same bus as Ms Oni.
Wearing her long hair down and a purple top and black cardigan, Konye, of Canning Town, East London, sat in the dock passively and repeatedly stared at the floor during the hearing.
She denies throwing or casting a corrosive fluid with intent to burn, maim, disfigure, disable or do grievous bodily harm.
The case was adjourned until 10.15am and the case continues tomorrow.