Walsall Christmas Fire: Woman Found Guilty Of Murder

6 June 2014, 17:55 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

A woman has been found guilty of murdering her partner on Christmas Day in Walsall after starting a fire in their flat.

Susan Buckley aged 57 was convicted for the murder of Geoffrey Carter at Wolverhampton Crown Court this afternoon (5th June)

The court heard how the couple, had been in a love/hate relationship for nearly 30 years before the fatal fire at his home in South Street Gardens, Caldmore on 25 December 2013.

Police and emergency services were called to the address at 5.30pm and found a lounge chair on fire. After searching the house, they found 58-year-old Geoffrey Carter lying on a bed in the bedroom. He was taken to Walsall Manor Hospital, where he later died shortly afterwards. A post mortem showed the cause of death to be smoke inhalation. He was also found to have two knife wounds to his arms and a black eye.

Geoffrey Carter and Susan Buckley had been in an on/off relationship for a number of years but would regularly fight and physically assault one another, usually as a result of heavy drinking. Buckley also lived at the South Street Gardens, but in a separate flat.

The court heard how the couple had started drinking and arguing late Christmas Eve into the early hours of Christmas morning. This continued into Christmas afternoon after Buckley had threw a coat, a Christmas present that the deceased had bought her, back at him.

Later that day, neighbours reported how Buckley was seen in the communal area of the flats, covered in soot, screaming for help. The fire service arrived and after putting out the chair fire, found Geoffrey Carter lying unconscious.

Senior investigating officer, Detective Inspector Gary Plant said: "Susan Buckley deliberately set fire to the inside of Geoffrey Carter’s flat, after she assaulted him following a further argument between the couple. Today’s sentence reflects the serious nature of her actions. By doing what she did, she took Geoffrey Carters life; but, if the fire hadn’t been controlled as quickly as it was, the lives of others within the block could also have been taken . Susan now has time to reflect upon her actions during the time of her custodial sentence and the impact it will have upon the rest of her life."

She will be sentenced on Tuesday 10 June at Wolverhampton Crown Court.