4:50pm Tuesday 6th August 2013
THE jury is expected to retire tomorrow to consider the evidence in the trial of a spurned lover accused of pouring petrol over the head of his former Rowley Regis girlfriend and turning her into a "fireball" because he could not cope with the end of their relationship.
Damion Sheldon left Louise Pilkington with 16 per cent burns to her head and body in the alleged murder bid by the front door of her Haden Walk home.
But the 42-year-old cable layer from Dudley has maintained to the jury it was his intention to kill himself as he stressed he would never hurt Miss Pilkington or her two children.
Miss Pilkington's 13-month-old daughter had to be rescued from the burning terraced property where she was sleeping and resuscitated by firemen with her mother fearing she was dead.
Her nine-year-old daughter escaped from the house with Miss Pilkington.
In evidence to the jury she said she was woken up by her dog Jess barking and smelled petrol when she went downstairs.
As she opened the front door she was confronted by Sheldon who grabbed her before pouring petrol over her head.
"He set me alight," said Miss Pilkington. "I took my jacket off and I dropped to the floor. I was screaming for help. All my hair was on fire and the pain was like nothing I have felt."
The prosecution alleged that after drinking heavily Sheldon, of Russells Hall Road, bought petrol and then poured the fuel through the letterbox.
A neighbour who saw Miss Pilkington on fire described her as a "fireball" and said it was "horrendous - like something out of a film."
But Sheldon told Wolverhampton Crown Court he was heartbroken when Miss Pilkington ended their nine-month relationship and he wanted to end his life.
He said he wanted to set himself on fire because he wanted her to see the pain she had caused him with the break-up adding: "I still loved her. I did not want to hurt her or the kids in any way."
Sheldon has denied attempting to murder Miss Pilkington and causing her grievous bodily harm with intent. But he has admitted arson and being reckless as to whether the life of the baby was endangered.
Judge John Warner will start summing up the case to the jury in the morning and it is expected they will go out to deliberate at lunchtime.
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