Lodger in Wrexham was ‘torched’ with petrol

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A MAN was set alight as he slept on a sofa early on New Year’s Day, a court heard yesterday.

Petrol was thrown over Jim Tudor, 63, and a lighter was used to ignite him, it was alleged.

Water in a mop bucket was thrown over him to put out the flames in a living room in Coedpoeth, Mold Crown Court was told. He was then placed in a cold bath and the alarm was raised.

Stephen Mark Welsh, 34, at the time living with girlfriend Kelly Kinsella and lodger Mr Tudor at the house in Bryn Clywedog, denies inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent.

He blames Miss Kinsella, his now former partner, and said she sprayed lighter fuel on him.

She told the jury that was “1,000 per cent” not true.

Prosecutor Matthew Dunford said: “Mr Tudor suffered very serious burns which could easily have proved fatal.”

The jury heard Mr Tudor had become homeless in 2006, he was a family friend and Miss Kinsella took him in as a lodger and he slept in her spare room.

In 2009 she started a relationship with Welsh who moved in and she felt he was jealous of Mr Tudor, although he had no reason to be.

That night all three and Miss Kinsella’s brother had been celebrating New Year and they had been drinking. Her brother left in the early hours.

Sometime before 4am Miss Kinsella recalled her partner coming from the kitchen with a saucepan, she could smell petrol and believed he had drained petrol from his motorcycle, which he kept in the kitchen.

She asked him what he wanted that for and he replied “watch this now” before throwing the petrol over Mr Tudor who was asleep on the sofa.

Welsh said “I hate him” before taking a lighter out of his pocket and lighting the petrol. There was a “whoosh” sound and Mr Tudor was covered in flames.

Welsh then got water and put out the flames and Miss Kinsella helped Mr Tudor into a cold bath before the ambulance was called.

In the 999 call Miss Kinsella told the ambulance control it had been an accident and Mr Tudor had been filling his lighter which had ignited.

The prosecution say Welsh then took on the phone and said Mr Tudor had spilt vodka on himself and that had been ignited with a cigarette.

Welsh and Miss Kelly split up a couple of weeks later and she went to the police to tell them what really happened, said Mr Dunford.

The court heard paramedics arrived at the home on January 1 and Mr Tudor was taken to Wrexham Hospital and then transferred to the regional burns unit at Whiston Hospital, Merseyside, where he was in intensive care until January 29.

He had second degree and full thickness burns to between 40 and 75 per cent of his body, which required skin grafts.

Mr Tudor remained there until March 22, returned to Wrexham and discharged himself on April 8 against medical advice.

On the night Welsh was wearing a blue T-shirt. Mr Dunford said while Mr Tudor had little recollection, he recalled a figure in blue standing in front of him.

He remembered feeling something cold upon him, then “a massive gust and a flash” as he went up in flames.

In evidence, Mr Tudor said it all happened so quickly. He had dropped off to sleep. “The next thing I knew I felt something cold on me,” he said.

He could not remember anything else apart from getting into the ambulance.
“I went up in flames. I was hot, very hot.”

When he arrived in Liverpool he was like a piece of toast and he heard one of the staff say they “wouldn’t give him until morning”.

Miss Kinsella said Mr Tudor “went up in flames” when Welsh threw petrol over him and used his lighter. “He was screaming ‘help me’.”

She initially lied to the ambulance service because Welsh threatened her.

Welsh, she said, would not let her go in the ambulance with Mr Tudor in case she opened her mouth.

Duncan Bould, defending, put it to her that she was the one who threw petrol over him and used a cigarette lighter.

The trial, before Judge Merfyn Hughes QC, is continuing.

See full story in the Leader

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