Jury distressed by fireball murder

FIVE jury members openly sobbed as accused murderer Terence Abbott was given a life sentence for killing his former wife by turning her into a human fireball.

By Amanda Cresswell

FIVE jury members openly sobbed as accused murderer Terence Abbott was given a life sentence for killing his former wife by turning her into a human fireball.

The usual hushed confines of the courtroom was punctuated by the weeping as the 53-year-old, from Speedwell Road, Ipswich, heard his fate after being found guilty of the murder of mother of four Lorraine Baldwin.

The jury at Norwich Crown Court heard how he doused the 42-year-old in petrol and set her alight outside her aunt's home in Kestrel Road.

Mrs Baldwin died in hospital nearly a month after the attack after suffering 75 per cent burns.

The jury - of seven women and five men - were unable to hide their emotions as they returned a unanimous verdict of murder after more than three hours of deliberation.

Most Read

Sentencing Abbott to life imprisonment Mr Justice Richard Curtis, told him: "What you have done is unbelievably cruel and sadistic."

As the jury delivered its verdict there were cries from the public gallery packed with friends and family of the ill-fated couple.

Abbott's daughter, Tassi, 18, burst into tears, while a relative of Mrs Baldwin shouted: "Yes" adding quietly: "He got what he deserved."

During the week-long trial the jury heard jealousy drove Abbott to attack his former wife on April 19 last year.

The court heard he saw her kiss another man a few days beforehand at the Locomotive Club, in Station Street, Ipswich.

On the day of the attack Abbott, a former taxi driver, argued with Mrs Baldwin at her mother's house in Goldcrest Road. Mother Maureen, and her daughter, left the house and got into Lorraine's car.

She told her mother she didn't know if he was angry about the kiss or a new job. She was due to start a job as a barmaid at the former Posthouse Hotel on London Road Ipswich.

Abbott then pursued the terrified victim to her aunt's house where he poured petrol on her and set on fire with a lighter.

Engulfed in flames Mrs Baldwin ran through the house into the bathroom then into the garden where she rolled in puddles.

The victim was first taken to Ipswich Hospital in Heath Road and then transferred to Broomfield Hospital, in Chelmsford. She suffered multiple organ failure and died on May 15.

The court heard that the couple, who married in 1980, had a volatile relationship.

Abbott, giving evidence earlier, told the court he loved his former wife and did not mean to kill her.

In a police interview Abbott said: "I didn't want to hurt her like that," and when giving evidence during the trial said he thought the flames would "just go out".

After the verdict Detective Constable Derek Riley, of Suffolk police, said it had been a highly charged court case which had split the family right down the middle.

"I hope the family as a whole can put the incident behind them and move along but nothing can replace the loss of a dearly loved mother, grandmother and daughter."

The verdict was a dramatic end to the week-long trial of which there were no winners or losers but a family torn apart by tragedy.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter