A HUSBAND accused of pouring white spirit on his wife and setting fire to her causing fatal injuries wept in the dock as he was cleared of murder.
Stephen Eastwood, aged 55, was jailed for eight years for the manslaughter of wife Angela, 55, after a jury found he hadn’t intended to kill her.
He wept into his handkerchief after the jury delivered their verdict at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday.
Jailing Eastwood, of Sycamore Drive, Thurcroft, Rotherham, Mr Justice Openshaw said he had not intended to kill his wife but ‘pouring the spirit over her was an abusive act with reckless disregard for her safety’.
The court heard the couple had a happy marriage and enjoyed regular holidays abroad, but rowed on December 28 last year.
Eastwood had decided to spend the night at his father-in-law’s house and packed a bag but when the argument escalated he went upstairs and repacked it with new clothes Angela had bought him for Christmas.
The judge said: “According to him she accused him, quite wrongly I’m sure, of leaving her for some other woman.
“This trivial and absurd argument set the scene for what followed.”
Mr Justice Openshaw said Eastwood had intended to set fire to the clothes and there was a struggle during which he either threw or poured some of the white spirit on his wife.
The judge added: “It is clear the defendant must have struck the light which started the fire, presumably using a disposable lighter because his wife was a regular smoker.
“I’m sure having struck the light he did not intend her to catch fire and did not intend the result. He attempted to scare her and held a naked flame close to her which ignited the white spirit on her dressing gown.”
Mrs Eastwood suffered horrific burns and Eastwood took her to Rotherham Hospital.
But she died from her injuries four days later, last New Year’s Eve.
Giving evidence in his defence, Eastwood wept as he described the couple’s last ever conversation during which they told each other they loved one another.
Det Ins Lea Jackson said: “Angela Eastwood suffered appalling injuries that later led to her death.
“We would like to encourage anyone who is a victim of domestic violence to come forward and report it as early as possible so all reports can be dealt with and investigated quickly. We do not want incidents to escalate like this where we have the tragic death of a woman.”