Man to be sentenced for murdering woman who died 20 years after he torched her

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A man will be sentenced for murdering his partner – who died 21 years after he doused her with petrol and set her on fire.

Steven Craig, 58, inflicted horrendous injuries on Jacqueline Kirk in a car park in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, in April 1998.

He was convicted of grievous bodily harm with intent in relation to the attack on Ms Kirk, a mother-of-two, and handed a discretionary life sentence with a minimum term of nine years for that and two other offences.

Jacqueline Kirk
Jacqueline Kirk died at the age of 61 in August 2019 (Avon and Somerset Police/PA)

A jury at Bristol Crown Court unanimously convicted Craig of the charge last month, finding the injuries caused by him – including burns to 35% of Ms Kirk’s body – were linked to her dying from a ruptured diaphragm.

Ms Kirk was in hospital for nine months after the attack and required 14 operations, including a tracheotomy and skin grafts.

She survived for 21 years and was able to see both of her children get married, and become a grandmother.

In August 2019, she was taken to the Royal United Hospital in Bath and died the next day.

Steven Craig
Steven Craig in 2000 (PA)

Given her frailty, doctors decided not to operate on Ms Kirk when she fell ill.

Richard Smith KC, prosecuting, told jurors the law did not demand that they find Ms Kirk’s injuries to be the sole or a main cause of her death, but that the contribution made by them was “more than minimal”.

Permission had to be sought from the attorney general, then Suella Braverman, who is now Home Secretary, to charge Craig with murder.

Craig, of Brailsford Road, York, admitted the attack on Ms Kirk but denied being responsible for her death.

He was remanded in custody following the guilty verdict and will be sentenced by Mrs Justice Stacey on Thursday.

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