5:53pm Wednesday 7th August 2013
A JILTED lover has today been found guilty of the attempted murder of his former girlfriend whom he set ablaze, turning her into a human fireball on the doorstep of her Rowley Regis home.
Damion Sheldon was told by Judge John Warner at Wolverhampton Crown Court “you are looking at a long period in custody” for setting fire to Louise Pilkington and starting a blaze that destroyed her home and risked the life of her 13-month-old baby.
The 42-year-old, from Dudley, made no reaction as the unanimous guilty verdict was given after more than three-and-a-half hours of deliberations by the jury this afternoon.
The mother-of-two suffered 16 per cent burns when Sheldon poured petrol over her head - but she miraculously escaped scars to her face and the court was told she had “recovered remarkably well”.
Sheldon, a cable layer, had gone to her Haden Walk home on the night of his birthday last December where he claimed he had planned to kill himself because he could not cope with the ending of their nine-month relationship.
But Miss Pilkington, aged 32, told the jury how she was woken up by her dog 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 said 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 her skin was heard to “sizzle” as another neighbour threw a bucket of water over her body.
Miss Pilkington’s nine-year-old daughter escaped from the house with her and neighbours tried in vain to rescue her baby.
She feared she was dead as fireman, who plucked her from the burning terraced house, took five anxious minutes to resuscitate her.
Sheldon, who admitted arson and being reckless as to whether the life of the baby was endangered, was remanded in custody until the week starting September 2 for a pre-sentence report.
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