A man from Dudley who poured petrol on his ex-girlfriend before setting her alight and turning her into a human ‘fireball’ was today jailed for 19 years.
Damion Sheldon went to Louise Pilkington’s home and poured petrol through her letterbox, before dousing her in it when she came to the door, a court heard.
Witnesses had described seeing her burn ‘like a fireball’ outside her Rowley Regis home on December 2.
A 13-month-old baby was rescued from the property and had to be resuscitated, while a nine-year-old child escaped unharmed, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told. The jury took three-and-a-half hours to find him guilty of attempted murder following a trial in July.
Sheldon, of Russells Hall Road, had told the jury he had gone to Miss Pilkinton’s home with the intention of killing himself in front of her after struggling to get over the breakdown of their relationship.
Sentencing him Judge John Warner today said: “It was pure chance that this did not end up as a catastrophe with a woman and two children dead.”
The trial had been told how 42-year-old Sheldon went to Miss Pilkington’s house in Haden Walk after celebrating his birthday on December 1. He had consumed nearly three litres of cider, vodka and a few pints of lager, and had taken the petrol can and a hammer to her home just after midnight, the court heard.
Neighbours described seeing Miss Pilkington run onto her neighbour’s front lawn and roll on the grass to douse the flames.
Sheldon had denied attempted murder and said he remembered little about events that night. He had pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether the life of the 13-month-old baby was endangered.
Sheldon was today jailed for 15 years for the attempted murder and four years for the arson charge.