Acid attack victim thanks Katie Piper for support after ex-boyfriend conviction

A beautician left disfigured after an acid attack planned by her jealous ex-boyfriend has thanked campaigner Katie Piper for her support, adding: "I will survive this ordeal".

Beautician Adele Bellis, 23, lost an ear, was left partially bald and has "life-changing" permanent scarring following the sulphuric acid attack at a bus stop in her home town of Lowestoft, Suffolk, on August 14 last year.

Five months before the attack she had been stabbed in the face by a friend of Riley's.

The acid attack was the culmination of a six-month campaign by her former partner of seven years, Anthony Riley, 26, who has been found guilty at Ipswich Crown Court.

In a statement, Miss Bellis welcomed the verdicts, saying she had been subjected to Riley's "violent, manipulative and jealous" behaviour since the age of 16.

She thanked her family and friends as well as high profile acid attack survivor Ms Piper for their support.

Evil and manipulative

Outside court, Detective Inspector Darryl Skuse described Riley as "evil and manipulative".

Miss Bellis said: "I find it difficult to put into words the pain I have suffered, I have very few tears left.

"The attacks on me have left me both physically and emotionally scarred.

"My family and friends have been by my side throughout.

"I'm very grateful to the Katie Piper Foundation for their continued and close support which has proved invaluable in helping me to rebuild my life.

"I will never forget what happened to me and it will always been in my mind but I am determined to live my life and I will survive this ordeal."

Her parents, Kevin and Colleen Bellis, attended the hearing. They praised their daughter's strength, saying she still needs weekly treatment at a specialist burns unit at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford.

Mr Bellis said: "She is just so strong, without her we would all have crumbled."

Four men involved

Riley, of Raglan Street, Lowestoft, had denied false imprisonment, conspiracy to apply a corrosive liquid and conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm with intent, but was found guilty after two hours and 15 minutes of jury deliberations.

Jason Harrison, 27, of Princes Road, Lowestoft, carried out the attack, saying he was forced to do it by Riley and has already admitted conspiracy to apply a corrosive liquid with intent.

Leon Thompson, 39, of Alma Road, Lowestoft, was found guilty of wounding in connection with the April 29 knife attack.

He was also convicted of conspiracy to apply a corrosive liquid and conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm with intent.

A fourth man, Daniel Marshall, 38, of Rose Court, Haverhill, who was described as Riley's driver, has admitted conspiracy to apply a corrosive liquid with intent.

Riley hung his head in the dock after the verdicts were returned.

During the trial, Miss Bellis said their relationship was abusive and controlling, with Riley regularly forcing her to have sex in cars in public places.

The court heard that Riley had bombarded Miss Bellis with messages after their relationship broke down and posted a revenge porn video featuring her on Facebook.

In March last year, he locked her in his flat for four hours and threatened to hurt her.

Consumed with jealousy

The following month, Miss Bellis had been left with facial scars after being stabbed in the mouth when he led her down a dark alleyway where he had arranged for a masked Thompson to be waiting.

Mr Jackson said: "After their relationship ended, Mr Riley became consumed with jealousy at the prospect of her becoming involved with another man.

"He decided to control her by disfiguring her.

"When these attempts to control her did not have the desired influence, he decide to go even further and exact revenge in the worst possible way."

Riley offered one drug addict, John Green, £2,000 to attack her but he refused when he realised what was involved, the court heard.

Eventually, Harrison, who owed Riley money, agreed to do it. Riley demonstrated the strength of the acid to him by dropping a live mouse into the liquid.

Smoke after attack

Harrison aborted two planned attacks, telling the court he did not want to go through with it. But he said Riley eventually forced him to do it.

He told the court: "He told me I had to pay £10,000 or I was going to get seriously hurt. He threatened my girlfriend. He said he would cut her up if I didn't do what he wanted."

Witnesses said they saw smoke coming from Miss Bellis after the attack.

She told police: "He got behind me and this bottle spilled liquid all over me. At first I thought 'oh my God he's messed up my hair'.

"After two or three seconds my skin just burned and I knew it was acid. I remember I was smoking, I was just crying and shouting 'I'm burning, I'm burning'."

Miss Bellis was in hospital for two months after the attack. She has undergone skin grafts and facial reconstruction surgery which is likely to continue throughout her life.

Prosecutor Andrew Jackson said Riley had 12 convictions for offences including violence dating back to 2004, when he was 15.

He was convicted of harassing Miss Bellis in 2012 and again last year in connection with the Facebook video.

Judge John Devaux adjourned sentencing until the week beginning October 5.

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