Weeping husband denies Rotherham fire death was deliberate

Angela and Stephen Eastwood
Angela and Stephen Eastwood
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A HUSBAND accused of murdering his wife by dousing her in white spirit and setting it alight wept in the dock as he recalled telling her he loved her for the last time.

Stephen Eastwood, aged 55, wiped away tears as he remembered his final conversation with wife Angela at Rotherham Hospital.

Giving evidence in his defence, he said his 56-year-old wife told him she loved him before she was transferred to the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield where she later died.

“I said, ‘I’m not going anywhere’, and, ‘I love you’ - they were the last words I spoke,” he said.

Eastwood denies pouring white spirit over his wife during a row at their home in Thurcroft, Rotherham, and setting it alight.

Mrs Eastwood died four days after suffering burns to her face, neck and chest and breathing in smoke last December 27.

Eastwood told Sheffield Crown Court the couple met at Sheffield United social club, and would have been celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary on Christmas Eve.

The joiner said they had a ‘loving relationship’, enjoyed exotic holidays abroad, and he loved his wife ‘very much’.

But the night before the incident they rowed and he slept on the settee. The next day he visited Angela’s father and, on his return, she had packed a suitcase of his old clothes.

Eastwood said he went upstairs and repacked the suitcase with new clothes Angela had bought him for Christmas, and the argument escalated.

He said his wife attacked him, swearing, punching, scratching and kicking him.

He told the jury he went to the garage and got a bottle of white spirit with the intention of ‘scaring’ her by pouring it on the clothes.

But he said: “At some stage the liquid spilled on Angela. I turned back around and I saw Angela’s hair, or what I thought was her hair, on fire.”

He said he thought she was lighting or smoking a cigarette at the time, and described trying to put out the flames by rolling her in a runner and a mat.

Asked if he had wanted to kill his wife, Eastwood said: “No, not at all.”

The trial continues.