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Fireball mum cheated on ex, court told

PUBLISHED: 18:28 02 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:27 03 March 2010

FIREBALL victim Lorraine Baldwin was a cheating wife with a string of lovers who walked out on her children, a court has been told.

The Ipswich mum-of-four would return to the family home with ripped tights and smeared make-up as late as 6am after nights out, the jury at her murder trial heard.

FIREBALL victim Lorraine Baldwin was a cheating wife with a string of lovers who walked out on her children, a court has been told.

The Ipswich mum-of-four would return to the family home with ripped tights and smeared make-up as late as 6am after nights out, the jury at her murder trial heard.

Her ex husband Terence Abbott, of Speedwell Road, Ipswich, has confessed to pouring petrol on his estranged wife and setting her alight, but denies murder at Norwich Crown Court.

The 53-year-old told the court he often woke to find his wife gone from their bed.

She usually returned days later and refused to say where she'd been or claimed to have been staying at her mother's house, he said.

Abbott, who was jailed for shoplifting in 1985, took the stand yesterday and told the jury how a friend visited him in prison to tell him Mrs Baldwin was seeing an American.

"She started seeing somebody else about three years after I'd been there (in prison)," he told the court.

"He was Tim Mealhau . He was a friend of both of us."

But Mrs Baldwin denied an affair – even when Abbott came home on a visit to discover meat in her fridge priced in dollars per pound. She claimed she had bought it cheap, he said.

"When I came out (of prison in August 1985) everybody told me about him. The first morning after I came out she told me to go but didn't say why. I assumed he was the reason. I felt sick and went to stay at my sister Jackie Goodwin's in Fitzwilliam Close," Abbott told the court.

He admitted he hit his ex wife in 1986, after she said she should have taken the children and gone to America with Mr Mealhau because he treated her better.

"It was the build up of six months, I suppose," he told the court.

Mrs Baldwin first left the family home in May 1998, though she had been unfaithful during the previous two years, Abbott said.

"There were times when she came home all disheveled, tights ripped and make up everywhere," he told the court.

When she worked as a barmaid at the Corn Exchange, she would return home at 4am, 5am or 6am. He would ask her where she'd been but she wouldn't say.

Abbott told the court how he hit her when she told him it was nothing to do with him.

Veronica Ramsey, defending Abbott, asked him: "Did it have anything to do with you?" and he replied: "I would have thought so. I am her husband!"

The court heard how Mrs Baldwin walked out on the family home for two-and-a-half months between May and July 1998 without a word to her husband.

She "just went", Abbott told the court, telling how she didn't see her children during this time although she did telephone them.

He told how on Christmas morning 1998, he picked her up at 11.40am when she was drunk. She fell asleep at 12.30pm, only waking at 2.45pm.

The couple divorced in October 1999 because of "her unreasonable behaviour" and Abbott won a custody battle over the children in July 1999. But he said Mrs Baldwin moved back in with him soon after the divorce.

In November 1999, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and stayed with Abbott for most of the next February.

"I was a shoulder for her," he said.

But he found out a man called Earl Fowl was driving her to hospital for treatment at the time.

In early 2000, she was visiting Abbott frequently, and staying for four or five days at a time, and he said: "I thought things were going well, but she would leave again without saying anything.

"She would telephone me at 1am, 2am, 3am, asking to be picked up from her boyfriends'.

"They were Stephen Jolly, Keith Pooley, and 'Davies.' She said they were friends she was using for running her about. I know she went with several other people."

He said he once spotted Mr Fowl's car outside Mrs Baldwin's mother's house but she denied it had been there, and she went on a fortnight's holiday with Mr Jolly to Tenerife. Abbott had originally thought she was going with her mother.

He said she moved back with him in from October 2000 to April 16, 2001 - moving out the day after he saw her kissing another man at the Locomotive Club in Station Street which caused an argument.

He said when she refused to talk to him on April 19, he followed her from her mother's house in Goldcrest Road, trying to talk to her but she didn't respond.

He waved a petrol can at her and she drove off to Kestrel Road, with her mother in the car, where the attack later took place.

Abbott broke down in tears in the witness box as he was shown photographs of the incident which led to the death of his ex wife.

He described pulling her to the ground, and pouring petrol on the front of her coat, then lighting it.

"I am not thinking what I am doing. I didn't hear any noise," Abbott said.

When asked three times why he set Mrs Baldwin on fire, he repeated: "I don't know."

He said he hadn't meant to kill her, or burn her the way he did.

He said he still loved her, and later added: "She shouldn't be dead."

He drove off to their daughter Tassi's house, then to his other daughter Tanya, and said: "I have set your mum alight."

He then went to his sister's home in Beatty Road where he was arrested that night, after giving himself up to police who dialed his mobile phone.

The trail continues again on Tuesday.


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