A monster who inflicted injuries so brutal on his girlfriend she would die from them 21 years later has been jailed for life.
Jacqueline Kirk was doused in petrol and set on fire by Steven Craig in a car park in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, in April 1998.
Ms Kirk was in hospital for nine months after the attack and required 14 operations, including a tracheotomy and skin grafts.
An earlier court hearing heard how he had been inspired by a scene in the Quentin Tarantino film ‘Reservoir Dogs’.
Because she miraculously survived, Craig was originally convicted of grievous bodily harm with intent for the attack on the mother-of-two.
He was handed a discretionary life sentence with a minimum term of nine years for that and two other offences, going on to serve 15 years in prison before being release in 2015 and recalled three years later for breaching his licence.
Craig, now 58, was arrested again and charged with murder in June 2021 after Ms Kirk’s death aged 61 in August 2019.
A jury at Bristol Crown Court unanimously convicted him last month, finding the injuries caused by him – including burns to 35% of Ms Kirk’s body – were linked to her dying from a ruptured diaphragm.
The court heard how scarring to Ms Kirk’s chest and abdomen meant their ability to expand was reduced when she suffered intestinal swelling.
Doctors were unable to operate because of her delicate medical condition and she died the day after being admitted to hospital.
Craig would ‘grin’ while repeatedly watching a ‘Reservoir Dogs’ scene in which a man tied to a chair is tortured and set alight, his victim recalled.
On the night of the attack, he filled a Coke bottle with petrol and poured it over Ms Kirk’s head and neck and offered his victim a cigarette.
Richard Smith KC, prosecuting, told the trial: ‘The defendant was to hold a cigarette and suggest that Jackie might have one as it might be her last.
‘It was at that point Jackie became aware of the fact the defendant had a lighter in his hand.
‘She recalled the lighter flame moving across her face as she was ignited.’
A passer-by contacted nearby police and paramedics soon attended, finding Ms Kirk ‘severely burnt and in agony’.
Richard Smith KC, prosecuting, told jurors during the trial that the law only required the contribution of injuries towards a death to be ‘more than minimal’ for a murder conviction to be justified.
Permission had to be sought from the attorney general, then Suella Braverman, to charge Craig with murder in a highly unusual case.
He was told today at Bristol Crown Court that he must serve at least 15 years before being considered for parole, a minimum term which was reduced to take into account his prior imprisonment for the same crime.
Craig, of Brailsford Road, York, admitted the attack on Ms Kirk but denied being responsible for her death.
Addressing Craig, Mrs Justice Stacey said: ‘I accept you had no intention to kill Jackie…but in your case this has reduced significance, almost to vanishing point, because the risk of her dying from what you did to her was so obvious, even if it was not your intention.’
Concluding her sentencing remarks, the judge said: ‘The last word should go to the family of Jackie for all that they have endured and the way they have stood by her and cared for her over this long and difficult period.’
She described Ms Kirk as a ‘remarkable and impressive woman’.
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