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Victim's daughter gives defence evidence

PUBLISHED: 16:06 06 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:29 03 March 2010

A VICTIM'S daughter has given evidence to support her father, who stands accused of the murder of Lorraine Baldwin.

After Terence Abbott threw petrol over his former wife and set light to her in Kestrel Road he went round to their daughter Tanya Abbott's house in Heatherhayes and confessed what he had done.

A VICTIM'S daughter has given evidence to support her father, who stands accused of the murder of Lorraine Baldwin.

After Terence Abbott threw petrol over his former wife and set light to her in Kestrel Road he went round to their daughter Tanya Abbott's house in Heatherhayes and confessed what he had done.

He had also gone round to daughter Tassi Abbott's house, to say goodbye as he feared he would go to prison.

Tassi, 18, from Speedwell Road, Ipswich took to the stand at Norwich Crown Court yesterday where she confirmed that her parents' marriage had been volatile.

After the incident in April 2001, Terence came round to her house, brushed his hair and had a drink before leaving.

The jury also heard yesterday how Lorraine had a serious drink problem and after a night out would end up in a state of collapse.

Retired publican James Littlejohn from the former Spring Tavern pub in Spring Road, Ipswich, said the victim: "drank increasingly over the years and became out of control," adding "I think she had a serious alcohol problem."

The 53-year-old defence witness, from Spring Road told the court he knew accused Terence Abbott since his mid-teens.

For over 20 years, the doomed couple were regulars in the pub where Littlejohn was licensee.

Abbott, 53, of Speedwell Road, Ipswich, denies murdering his former wife Lorraine Baldwin by setting fire to her - in a fit of rage.

Asked how Abbott's former wife would react to drink Littlejohn, said: "She would become abusive to the customers, especially Terry and end up more often than not in a state of collapse."

Terence, on the other hand, he told the court, would be placid and try to keep Lorraine in control making sure he got her home safely at the end of the day.

Referring to Lorraine's behaviour at the pub Littlejohn told the court. "If it wasn't for the fact that we were good friends I don't think that she would have been there," he told the jury.

Giving evidence Abbott's friend and former taxi driver colleague, Peter Coe, who was also a defence witness, told the court the accused was not a violent man.

"I have never seen Terry raised his hand to anybody in 25 years," he told the court. "He loved Lorraine to bits."

Coe and Abbott worked together in the early 1980's, and would chat while they were waiting to pick up a fare.

"Terry thought the world of Lorraine. There is no question about it," said Coe, who knew Abbott for 25 years.

Summing up, prosecutor James Farrell QC, opened with the words Terence said to Tanya: "'I have done what I have said I was going to do. I have said her alight.'"

"These words reflect exactly what he had done," said Farrell.

"There was no sudden or temporary loss of control here. This was an attack upon her. An attack which he carried out which was murder."

He added there was no issue that Abbott killed his former wife by pouring petrol on her and there was no dispute that he threatened his former wife at least once.

Abbott, who denies murder, could be found guilty of manslaughter on the basis of lack of intent, or the alternative of guilty of manslaughter on the basis of provocation.

"The prosecution allege that it is murder," Farrell told the jury adding by pouring petrol on his former wife and setting her on fire Abbott intended to kill her or at the very least cause serious bodily harm.

"What he (Abbott) is saying is that he didn't mean to cause that much harm therefore he is not guilty of murder because he only wanted to cause a little bit of harm and not a lot of harm.

"If you set someone on fire, what can you possibly intend? The said the circumstances were that Abbott went up the driveway in Kestrel Road and unscrewed the petrol can.

Addressing the jury he said that if Abbott had just intended to harm her he would have punched or kicked her, or poured petrol on her - but not set it alight.

"Members of the jury the setting on fire of someone doused in petrol can only be done with the intention of causing serious injury and not only just to cause harm," said Farrell.

The trial continues.


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