UK woman pours boiling syrup over sleeping husband after learning of sexual abuse allegations
A UK mum murdered her husband by pouring a boiling syrup mixture over his body as he slept after she heard allegations he had sexually abused their son.
Corinna Smith, 59, mixed two kettles of water with three bags of sugar leaving 80-year-old Michael Baines with burns to 36 per cent of his body last year.
Smith was “livid and “fuming” after hearing claims Baines had abused children, including their son Craig, who tragically took his own life in 2007.
She was jailed for life at Chester Crown Court on Friday after previously being found guilty.
Prosecutors said sugar with water made the liquid “more viscous, thicker and stickier so that it stays on the skin and causes greater damage and that is exactly what it did.”
After Smith poured the boiling sugar water on her husband of 38 years, she ran to a neighbour’s house and banged on the front door until the occupant answered.
He contacted police and ambulance after hearing her say “I’ve hurt him really bad, I think I’ve killed him”.
A short time later officers arrived at the address where they found Baines in excruciating pain.
He was whimpering in bed with the skin on his right arm and hand peeling off, the court heard.
Baines suffered significant burns to 36 per cent of his body and was in hospital for five weeks during which he had multiple surgeries and skin grafts.
He died a month later.
Smith was initially charged with grievous bodily harm but after the death of her husband, the charge was upgraded to murder.
A month before her husband died, Smith was told of “devastating” allegations he had committed sexual abuse against children “for many years”.
It’s alleged he abused the only child the couple had together – Craig Baines – who took his own life in 2007, aged 25.
“He had been troubled before his death and had been to prison for a serious assault,” Judge Amanda Yip DBE told the court.
“You and other family members could not understand why Craig’s life had taken this course.
“He had told you that the man he attacked had been a paedophile and that he had touched him sexually.
“The day before Craig’s death, he had been in some distress and had said: ‘Mum, he’s a paedophile’.
“You understood him to be referring to the man he had assaulted. Craig seemed happier the next day and you did not explore what he had said further.
“This is something that you have felt guilty about ever since. You blamed yourself for Craig’s death although you had no reason to.
“Your trial could not and did not explore the truth of the allegations made against your husband.
“The prosecution accepted that the allegations were made and that you believed them. No doubt the revelations were extremely distressing for you.”
Smith was sentenced to life in jail, with a 12-year non-parole period.
“Although the background provides some explanation as to why you did what you did, I am sure you know that it cannot provide an excuse,” Justice Yip added.
“Your actions cannot begin to be justified, whatever you believed your husband had done.
“You have taken Mr Baines’ life and caused terrible grief and shock for his children and those who loved him.
“The moving and dignified statements from his daughters and your son make that clear.
“Killing Mr Baines also took away any opportunity for the allegations to be tested.
‘I sentence you on the basis that your intention was to cause serious harm rather than to kill.’
“That took away his right to a fair trial, bearing in mind that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.
“I have no doubt that this has caused untold pain to Mr Baines’ children.
“The allegations are left hanging but unproven. This is a quite dreadful situation for the whole family.
“They are in no way to blame for any of this and they deserve the utmost sympathy.
“I sentence you on the basis that your intention was to cause serious harm rather than to kill. Further, that intention was formed while you were in a state of distress.
“This was not a long-held and carefully formed plan. You made use of materials you already had at home.”
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Hughes from Cheshire Constabulary said Baines’ death was “absolutely horrific”.
“Smith killed her husband Michael in such a painful and cruel way,” he said following sentencing.
“To throw boiling water over someone when they are asleep is absolutely horrific.
“It left Michael in agony and rather than call the emergency services she wasted time by going to a house nine doors away to tell a neighbour, who she wasn’t close to, what she had done.
“Michael was an elderly man who fought for his life after the attack but sadly in the end he passed away. My thoughts continue to be with his family at this incredibly difficult time.”