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Fireball murder: how it happened

PUBLISHED: 13:53 07 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:30 03 March 2010

THE main players:



Terence Abbott.

The murderer. Married to Lorraine from 1980 to 1999, age 53. Poured petrol on her and set her on fire, on April 19 last year.

THE main players:

Terence Abbott.

The murderer. Married to Lorraine from 1980 to 1999, age 53. Poured petrol on her and set her on fire, on April 19 last year. Kept trying to win his wife back after they separated.

Lorraine Abbott.

The victim. Mother of four, 42, died in hospital from her 75 per cent burns on May 15, last year. Had a string of illicit liaisons.

Maureen Baldwin.

The victim's mother. Accused of interfering during the marriage. Tried to stop the attack by pulling out clumps of Abbott's hair. Prosecution witness who saw Lorraine set on fire.

Janet and Derek Dighton.

Aunt and uncle of the victim. The attack happened outside their home in Kestrel Road, Ipswich. They ran outside to see their niece on fire and tried to put the flames out.

Tanya Abbott.

Eldest daughter of Terence and Lorraine, 19. Prosecution witness.

Tassi Abbott.

Second daughter of Terence and Lorraine, 18. Defence witness.

Timeline:

Feb 27:

The murder trial opens at Norwich Crown Court.

Prosecutor David Farrell QC telling the jury how Abbott confessed what he had done to his daughters immediately after setting Lorraine on fire.

He told of a stormy marriage but said Abbot had known what he was doing when he attacked his ex wife.

Witness Stephen Jolly told how he had been Mrs Baldwin's boyfriend for eight months, and tape recorded Abbott's threats.

Family friend Anne Hartwig gave evidence about Abbott's possessiveness.

Maureen Baldwin told how her daughter fled from an angry Abbott on April 19, when he was angry at seeing her kiss another man on April 15, or her new job.

She said Abbott followed them to Kestrel Road where a fight developed and he poured petrol on his former wife, setting it on fire with a lighter.

She told how she fought to get her daughter's burning clothes off, and rolled her in a puddle to quench the flames.

Feb 28

Tearful Tanya Abbott gives evidence for the prosecution. She told how Abbott arrived at her flat to confess.

Other witnesses Melanie Maguire, Matthew and Carl Clayton told how they saw the commotion outside the house in Kestrel Road.

Richard Noble tells how he borrowed a petrol can from Abbott before the attack.

Janet and Derek Dighton gave evidence about how they saw their niece on fire, and tried to extinguish the flames with towels.

The jury hear transcripts of police interviews, read out in court, which revealed Abbott admitting to shoplifting sprees with Mrs Baldwin to fund their nights out and her drinking binges.

He also told police of his prison sentence in 1985 for his crimes.

March 1:

More police interviews were read out, where Abbott told officers he hadn't realised setting fire to Mrs Baldwin would be so dangerous.

He told how he went to say goodbye to Tanya and Tassi after the attack.

Abbott told the jury that Mrs Baldwin would often come home with her tights ripped and make up smeared after nights out.

He named her boyfriends and told of his battle to win back her love and said he had not meant to kill her.

March 5:

Tassi Abbott gave evidence for the defence saying Abbott went round to her house to confess what he had done.

The court also heard from retired publican James Littlejohn who told how Mrs Baldwin's drinking would make her abusive and leave her in a state of collapse.

Abbott's friend and former taxi driver colleague Peter Coe said the accused was not a violent man.

Abbott's sister gave evidence to say he went round to her house where he gave himself up to police.

The prosecution summed up its case, with Mr Farrell saying there had been no temporary loss of control and Abbott must have intended to cause serious injury.

March 6:

Defence barrister Veronica Ramsden summed up saying Abbott didn't know she was going to die when he was interviewed by police.

He did admit his previous acts of violence and still harboured a hope of love for her.

She said he wasn't aware how serious her condition was and thought she would pull through.

She told how he said to his son: "I'm going to break your neck", but didn't intend to do what he said.

She said if he was going to plan murder, why would he get his little girl to buy the petrol.

She said he could have attacked Mrs Baldwin at her mother's house in Goldcrest Road, or poured petrol over all her body, and she could have called the police if she had been frightened.

Miss Ramsden said maybe the tension built up to such an extent that there was one sneer from Mrs Baldwin and he snapped.

Judge Sir Richard Curtis QC sent the jury out saying they must decide whether Abbott was guilty of murder or manslaughter.

There are tears in the courtroom as the jury found Abbott guilty of murder, after three hours of deliberating, at 4pm.

Judge says: "What you have done is unbelievable cruel and sadistic."


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