Man who torched lodger while he slept is jailed

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A DRUNK who poured petrol over a sleeping man and turned him into a human fireball has been jailed for 10 years.

Stephen Welsh caused life-threatening and permanent injuries to victim Jim Tudor, a court heard yesterday.

The attack, which took place at a house in Coedpoeth last New Year’s Eve, had a “devastating” effect on the life of 63-year-old Mr Tudor who described in a victim impact statement how he suffered pain, had nightmares, and was unable to look at himself because of the scars.

A jury at Caernarfon Crown Court was told he had burns to between 40 and 75 per cent of his body and required skin grafts.

Welsh, 34, of Melvern Road, Longsight, Manchester, was found guilty by the jury of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent.

He and the victim had been lodgers at the home of his girlfriend, Kelly Kinsella, at Coedpoeth when the attack occurred.

Welsh blamed her but the jury rejected his story.

Judge Merfyn Hughes QC said Welsh and the victim were living at the home of Ms Kinsella and shared an interest “in living a lifestyle which involved the daily consumption of large amounts of alcohol”.

The judge told him: “On New Year’s Eve both you and the victim together with Kelly Kinsella had been consuming large amounts of alcohol.

“At some point during the evening, while Mr Tudor was sitting on a settee, you left the room in order to obtain a saucepan of petrol which you had taken from a motorbike in the kitchen.

“You returned to the living room and told Kelly Kinsella to watch what you were about to do which was to pour the petrol over Mr Tudor and set him alight. It caused the most serious injuries.”

The judge added: “When you realised the seriousness, you did attempt to put out the fire, but by then it was too late.

“You realised also the police would be involved and decided to threaten Kelly Kinsella, suggesting as you did even during your trial that it was she who had set fire to him. The jury rejected your defence, not surprisingly in the light of the evidence.”

Mr Tudor told the jury he had been asleep and then felt something cold on him.

There was then a “whoosh”. He said in evidence : ”I went up in flames. I was hot, very hot.”

Defence barrister Duncan Bould, for Welsh, said : “Whatever it was that motivated him, within a few seconds he was the person taking the most immediate and effective steps to quench the danger.”

Detective Inspector Dave Spencer, of North Wales Police, said: "We worked closely with North Wales Fire and Rescue Service to gather the evidence to bring this successful prosecution."

- Speaking to the Leader after the trial Kelly Kinsella said the attack was “totally unprovoked”.

She said: “I will live with this every day. Jim has been a friend of the family for years. I have had flashbacks, nightmares and bad dreams. It is a terrible thing.”

See full story in the Leader

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