Man convicted of murder decades after he set woman alight
A man has been found guilty of murdering his former partner who died more than 20 years after he set her on fire.
In 2000, Steven Craig, now 59, was sentenced to life in prison for the assault on Jacqueline Kirk in Weston-super-Mare two years earlier.
Jacqueline sustained 35% burns in the incident and spent nine months in hospital – including three months in intensive care – before being discharged.
In August 2019 she died aged 61.
A post-mortem examination was subsequently carried out by a pathologist who recorded her cause of death as a ruptured diaphragm caused in part by burn injuries to her airway and torso.
After a three-week trial at Bristol Crown Court, a jury today (28 October) agreed with prosecutors that the injuries inflicted by Craig were more than a minimal cause of her death and convicted him of murder.
Craig, of Brailsford Crescent, York, was remanded into custody and will be sentenced at the same court on Wednesday 9 November.
In a media interview, Jacqueline’s daughter, Sonna, told how the family were originally advised she would not survive the attack.
She praised the first responders and all those involved in providing her mother medical care over the years, saying: “If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have had the extra 21 years and we’re very, very grateful for all the hard work they did.”
She added Jacqueline’s strong character helped her to recover.
“Most people would describe her as stubborn and that’s mostly seen as a negative thing but for her it was a very positive thing, it kept her going and it got her stronger and it got her to be Jackie,” she said.
Sonna also described how people would stare at her mother and cross the road to avoid her after the assault but that getting a dog forced her to go outdoors.
Her love of her dog, nature and photography along with the support of her family and friends led to her regaining her confidence “build up her life and be herself again”.
Following the trial, Detective Chief Inspector Mark Almond said: “Jacqueline Kirk sustained unimaginable physical and mental injuries at the hands of Steven Craig.
“What he did to her was horrendous and had a profound effect on her and her family.
“Yet she surpassed doctors’ expectations and lived for a further 21 years, during which time she saw her children get married and several grandchildren born.
“While she managed to see many significant milestones, her life was still cut short by the injuries caused by Craig and it was only right that he was held fully accountable.
“The jury agreed with the expert medical evidence which concluded she would not have died the way she did had it not been for what Craig did to her.”
He added: “I’d like to thank Jacqueline’s family for their support during our investigation and praise them for the courage and integrity they’ve shown throughout this trial.
“No verdict will ever compensate for Jacqueline’s death but I hope this outcome brings some sense of closure to an incident which has impacted their lives for a such a very long time.”