Sheffield fire murder accused’s story ‘not plausible’

Angela and Stephen Eastwood
Angela and Stephen Eastwood
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A MAN accused of murdering his wife by setting her ablaze using white spirit and a cigarette lighter didn’t give a ‘plausible explanation’ for her injuries, a fire investigation expert told a court.

Stephen Eastwood, aged 55, allegedly doused Angela Eastwood in white spirit before using the lighter to ignite it.

Mrs Eastwood, a 56-year-old librarian, was wearing pyjamas and a dressing gown at the time and suffered horrific burns.

After the incident, Eastwood claimed his wife was smoking a cigarette which sparked the fire when the liquid spilled on her during a row at their home on Sycamore Drive, Thurcroft, Rotherham. The out-of-work joiner denies murder.

But forensic scientist Rebecca Jewell, a fire investigation specialist, told jurors: “It’s accepted that a lit cigarette cannot ignite vapours given off by liquids such as white spirit.”

Ms Jewell said ‘very few’ materials can be set on fire with a lit cigarette.

“It’s not a plausible explanation,” she added.

The expert carried out numerous experiments which were filmed and shown to the jury.

In one test, she placed 10 king-sized cigarettes of the same brand smoked by Mrs Eastwood into a tray of white spirit. None of the cigarettes ignited the fluid.

Jonathan Fuller QC, defending, said Ms Jewell had ‘sexed up’ her report, telling her: “You made it fit with the allegation.”

The trial continues.