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27 January 2015, 14:26
A Darlington man's been jailed for more than 15 years after admitting dousing his partner in petrol and setting her alight.
32 year old Rebecca Major jumped for her life from the flat above a shop she shared with Edward McArthur after flames gripped her only escape route.
She suffered 40% burns and a fractured skull and sternum in the fall onto concrete from an upstairs window, after she smashed it with a table.
Her 40-year-old boyfriend lost his temper when they argued at their home in Geneva Road, Darlington, in August, and told her: "You will pay for this''.
Teesside Crown Court heard he then poured petrol on her head and into her eyes which she tried to wash off.
She was only wearing a bra and shorts because of the warm weather and felt it sting as it ran down her back and legs.
McArthur started a fire in two places in the flat and then fled and Ms Major recalled hearing him lock the front door.
Although this evidence was questioned, the Recorder of Middlesbrough Judge Simon Bourne-Arton said it was matterless as the fire on the stairs effectively blocked her escape, meaning her only option was to jump.
The judge told the defendant:
"Your intention was to disfigure, that means the serious injury you had in mind was to be permanent, in that she would remain scarred.''
The judge said McArthur's vulnerable and drunk victim was also psychologically scarred, and left "nervous, fragile and untrusting''.
"You must have heard her screams and you ignored them. As she was screaming for help you walked out of the flat.''
After his partner was badly injured, McArthur did nothing to help and lied about his involvement to bystanders, the court heard.
She needed three weeks in intensive care at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, and required agonising skin grafts. Her sides, legs, back and arms have been left badly burned and she required ongoing medical care.
The judge told McArthur:
"You have ruined her body. That was your intention, to scar her physically. You scarred her emotionally, both for life. Now she has no self-confidence at all.
You carried out a wicked act. You did so for no reason, certainly no good reason. You did so with no feelings for your victim.''
He jailed him for 15 years and six months after admitting grievous bodily harm with intent and arson with intent to endanger life. He was sentenced to a further 12 weeks for breaching a suspended sentence.
McArthur had been on trial for attempted murder and arson. He was formally cleared by a jury of the first offence after admitting the GBH charge on the direction of the judge.
The court heard the fire destroyed the flat and wrecked the convenience store below.
The business was not insured as the owner was planning to sell.