A man has been jailed for murder after he doused his wife with petrol and set her alight because she filed for a divorce from him.
Thomas Rainey, 61, from County Derry in Northern Ireland, opened the car door as his wife prepared to leave their rural property and soaked her with flammable liquid before setting her alight in front of their children.
The children watched as Katrina Rainey desperately tried to free herself from her seatbelt, a court heard. They covered their mother with wet towels as they waiting for emergency services.
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The mother-of-six was able to relay details of the attack to emergency services, some of which was captured on police bodycam, before she was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, where she later died.
The Irish Mirror reported that she told police that she had been to see a solicitor and she believed the attack was her husband’s retaliation to the pending divorce.
Ms Rainey also told police that she was unable to get out of the car due to her seatbelt being fastened so she kept “hitting the horn and screaming”.
As a result of the brutal attack, 90% of Ms Rainey’s body was covered with burns.
The defence put forward that Mr Rainey had no previous history of domestic abuse, but Mr Justice O’Hara stated during sentencing “the murder of a wife who is seeking a divorce is in itself a definitive act of domestic violence”.
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In court on Wednesday, Thomas Rainey sat in the dock awaiting sentence wearing a red jumper and striped shirt. He did not react when his 18-year sentence was handed down.
Sentencing Rainey at Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday, Mr Justice O’Hara said: “This is a significant prison sentence for a man of 61 but, given the horror of what he did to his wife, it is the least he deserves.”
In a victim impact statement, Ms Rainey’s mother said “my life has been taken too”, adding that she worries about the long-term impact on her grandchildren who witnessed their mother covered in flames.
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