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Man guilty of murder after woman he set on fire in 1998 died 21 years later

|News, Domestic abuse , Violent crime

A man has been convicted of murder after a woman he doused with petrol and set on fire in 1998 died 21 years later.

Stephen Craig’s attack on his partner Jacqueline Kirk left her with severe burns to 35% of her body. Craig was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent in 2000 and served 15 years in prison.

Jacqueline died in 2019 following a rupture to her diaphragm. Craig was charged with Jacqueline's murder in 2021, as a result of evidence that the injuries he inflicted on Jacqueline in 1998 played a significant part in her death 21 years later.

Stephen Craig was convicted of murder by a jury at Bristol Crown Court today and will be sentenced on 9 November.

Andrew Pritchard, of the CPS, said: “When Stephen Craig was jailed in 2000 for causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Jacqueline Kirk, no one knew that his actions would eventually lead to Jacqueline’s death. As a result, the original sentence he served did not reflect the full consequences of his appalling actions.

“The passage of time between the attack and Jacqueline’s death 21 years later made this a highly unusual and challenging case, and meant that approval was needed from the Attorney General to proceed with a prosecution for murder.

“To charge Craig with murder we had to demonstrate that the terrible injuries he inflicted on Jacqueline in 1998 caused her death. To do this, we needed the advice and assistance of a number of experts from several specialisms. It was their evidence which, when presented to the jury, allowed them to be sure that Craig’s actions in 1998 played a significant part in Jacqueline’s death in 2019.

“Today’s conviction ensures that Craig will now be held responsible for the full consequences of his actions – the murder of Jacqueline Kirk. Our thoughts are with Jacqueline’s family at this difficult time.

“This case is a particularly serious example of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse cases of all kinds – whether they involve physical violence or not – make up a significant proportion of our workload at the CPS. We want victims of domestic abuse to come forward in the knowledge that both the police and CPS are determined to secure justice for victims.”

Notes to editors

  • Andrew Pritchard is a Senior Crown Prosecutor in the CPS South West Complex Casework Unit.

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