Neighbour who set young mum on fire and watched her burn has sentence increased

A man who set his neighbour on fire and watched her burn as he smoked a cigarette has had his sentence increased to life in prison.

Kirsten Ashby, 27, saw there was some kind of problem between her neighbour and his girlfriend at their home in Milton Keynes, and went to try and help.

But Raymond Bowen threw petrol over her, then flicked a lighter to set her on fire while he stood smoking a cigarette.

Kirsten Ashby was not expected to survive (Picture: INS)

She was left with no finger tips, no ears, layers of her skin on her face melted away, and her shoulder-length dark hair burned away. Bowen was jailed for 19 years in April after pleading guilty to attempted murder.

But his case was referred by the Solicitor General Robert Buckland, who argued the penalty was too lenient. The 24-year-old’s conduct was ‘utterly cruel and callous’ and had changed the life of his victim, Kirsten Ashby, ‘irreparably and irretrievably’ for ever, Lord Justice Davis said today.

She remembered him watching her burn without helping at all while he smoked a cigarette, said Lord Justice Davis.

Raymond Bowen has now been jailed for life (Picture: INS)

Mr Buckland said Ms Ashby suffered burns to 32% of her body and had agonising and life-changing injuries. She had to wear a body suit for up to 20 hours a day, was still in acute pain and had lost most of her ears and the use of her hands.

Bowen, who had consumed cocaine and a large amount of whiskey, said he had no real recollection of the events in November 2017. Reports said he was suffering from no mental illness, had shown no real remorse and posed a high risk of serious harm to the public.

Kirsten before the attack (Picture: INS)

Substituting a life sentence with a minimum term of 12 years, Lord Justice Davis – sitting with Mr Justice Goss and Mr Justice Kerr – said they found it an ‘extremely difficult and upsetting’ case. He added: ‘We have to consider whether the seriousness of this offence was such as to justify a life sentence. ‘We are driven to the conclusion that it does.’

Kristen was hospitalised after the attack, and her parents have spoken out to try and raise money for her treatment and adaptations to help her. Parents, Lynn and Paul, have taken care of Kirsten’s daughter Maddison, nine, since the attack and visited her in hospital as she has undergone a staggering 80 operations to rebuild her face and body.

Her parents said after Bowen’s first sentencing that they were told to expect the worst as she was not expected to survive the horrific ordeal. They described her as a ‘stubborn soul’ and her recovery, much of which had been in isolation due to the risk of contracting an infection, was a slow and painful process.

In the first month after the incident Kirsten was placed in a medically induced coma so her body could deal with the shock and pain caused by the extensive burns. Mrs Ashby added that she had been in bandages from head to toe for five months after the attack, as skin had been taken from other areas of her body in a bid to graft onto her face and torso. Kirsten had also had all her fingers amputated leaving her unable to feed herself or take care of her own very basic needs.

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