Library fire attacker loses appeal

Barry Wilson

Barry Wilson

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A “CLEARLY dangerous” stalker who poured lighter fuel over a terrified woman and tried to set her on fire in a public library was told this week by top judges he deserved to be jailed indefinitely.

Barry Wilson, 67, of Welby Everard Court, College Street, Grantham, created a “shrine” to 21-year-old Mary Jane Jones after becoming “infatuated” with her, a court heard.

He was handed imprisonment for public protection - which is almost identical to a life sentence - at Lincoln Crown Court in January after he admitted attempting to cause grievous bodily harm.

Wilson challenged his open-ended sentence, with his lawyers arguing the crown court judge should have considered a less draconian option.

They also argued that his four-year minimum term - which he must serve before his release can even be considered by the parole board - was “too long”.

But his appeal was dismissed by top judges, who said the sentence was “neither wrong in principle nor excessive”.

The court heard Wilson was “infatuated” with Miss Jones and had convinced himself they were involved in a romantic relationship.

He regularly followed her to Grantham Library and took photographs of her without her consent, as well as sending her threatening text messages.

After she tried to “calm him down” by telling him they were not in a relationship, his behaviour escalated and he sent her a text, saying: “You don’t want to see what my mates and family will do to you when I’m gone.”

On October 20, the court heard he went to the library - where Miss Jones was using a computer - and, standing next to her wearing all black clothes, said: “I have even dressed in black for the occasion”.

He poured lighter fluid over her and tried two or three times to strike a match, but bystanders intervened and knocked the matches out of his hand.

Wilson then pulled a lighter out of his pocket and tried to ignite the fuel, but it did not spark and he was overpowered by staff and onlookers.

When police searched his home, they found a “shrine” to Miss Jones, including a photo of her, on which he had written “Sorry, I love you, Barry”.

The court heard he had 20 previous convictions for 37 offences, including actual bodily harm in 1987 and stabbing his then wife in 1982.

In a victim impact statement handed to the crown court, Miss Jones said her life was drastically affected by the incident, she no longer used the library and she had moved to a new home.

Wilson’s lawyers argued he shouldn’t have been given the indefinite sentence, saying the crown court judge didn’t take enough account of the fact his previous convictions were so many years before.

They said he could have been given an extended jail term instead, arguing he was only guilty of an attempt rather than the full offence of grievous bodily harm.

But, dismissing the appeal, Mr Justice Mackay said Wilson’s crime was too “serious” for him to be given anything other than an indefinite sentence.

The judge, sitting with Lord Justice Moore-Bick and Judge John Bevan QC, added: “He came as close as he could have come to achieving his aim and was only frustrated by the brave and prompt reaction of library staff.

“He had formed a distorted view of his relationship with this woman over a period of weeks and months and it is that infatuated and unrealistic behaviour that gave the court - and gives this court - concern about his future behaviour and concern that he is plainly a dangerous offender.

“This was so serious and so persistent that there is a clear need for his behaviour to be addressed in a custodial setting.”