Man who tried to set woman on fire is jailed indefinitely

Barry Wilson

Barry Wilson

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A STALKER who tried to set fire to a woman in a public library after pouring lighter fuel over her head has been jailed indefinitely by a judge to protect the public.

Barry Wilson, 66, was wrestled to the ground by staff and customers at Grantham Library after trying to ignite Mary Jane Jones, 21, with both matches and a lighter.

Lincoln Crown Court heard Wilson had become “infatuated” with Miss Jones and routinely followed her to the library despite receiving a harassment warning from the police and a caution for pushing her against a wall.

The court was told Wilson sent Miss Jones threatening text messages and frequently took photographs of her in the library without her permission, but she reluctantly put up with their “friendship” as the best way of dealing with him.

Simon Rowe, prosecuting, said Miss Jones visited the library on a daily basis and was sitting in the computer area when she suddenly noticed Wilson had taken out a pack of cooking matches and placed them in front of her on the desk.

Wilson told her: “I’ve even come dressed in black for the occasion.”

Other customers then saw Wilson pull out a container of lighter fuel from his pocket and try to strike the matches “two or three times” after pouring it over Miss Jones’ head.

Mr Rowe said: “In desperation Miss Jones began to undress as she realised what Wilson was doing.”

A member of staff lunged at Wilson and managed to take the matches from him but he got back to his feet and produced a lighter which he again struck “two or three times” in a bid to set Miss Jones on fire.

“Fortunately the arm did not spark,” Mr Rowe added.

Wilson was again overpowered by other customers and told police when they arrived: “You’ve met an old boy who tried to kill somebody.”

When officers searched Wilson’s home they found a picture of Miss Jones at the end of his bed with the words “Sorry, I love you, Barry” written on it.

Mr Rowe told the court: “That was clearly put there before he went out to do what he had done.”

When interviewed by police Wilson admitted going to the library with the lighter fuel after drinking four double brandies.

The court heard Wilson was previously jailed for four years in 1982 for stabbing his wife after he found her in bed with another man.

In a victim impact statement which read out in court Miss Jones said she was now living in fear of the day Wilson was released from prison and had moved out of her home in Bridge End Road, Grantham.

Miss Jones revealed in the statement: “I have never been so scared in all my life. I really thought I was going to die.”

Sunil Khanna, mitigating, told the court Wilson had given Miss Jones somewhere to live when she arrived in Grantham homeless.

Judge James Sampson said it was clear that Wilson was a danger to women and needed to be made the subject of an indefinite sentence for public protection.

Wilson, of Welby Everard Court, Grantham, was told he will have to serve a minimum of four years imprisonment before he is considered for parole after admitting attempting to cause Miss Jones grievous bodily harm on October 20 last year.

Passing sentence Judge Sampson told him: “You made a shrine on your bed to you victim before your attack.

“You went to the library, you poured lighter fuel over head and then made a determined effort to set her alight with both matches and a lighter.

“Your efforts were only thwarted by members of the public. Clearly her injuries could have been horrific.”