Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Man jailed for murder bid after setting woman on fire

Stewart Watson Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Stewart Watson was found guilty of attempted murder

A man who poured lighter fluid over a woman before setting her on fire has been jailed for eight-and-a-half years.

Stewart Watson, 36, was found guilty last month of attempted murder after the attack in the West Lothian village of Polbeth on 4 September 2015.

The judge condemned his "truly horrifying assault" on Anne Crossan, 47.

Outside court Miss Crossan said: "I feel as though a chip has been lifted off my shoulder. I just feel relieved."

'Clearly premeditated'

Watson was sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh

Lord Bannatyne said: "It is difficult to imagine how terrifying this must have been for the complainer (Miss Crossan). The results of the assault were appalling."

The judge said the effects on Miss Crossan had been not just physical but emotional and added: "This assault was on an entirely innocent person. The assault was clearly premeditated."

Miss Crossan said she had been diagnosed as suffering post traumatic stress disorder following the attack on her which left her suffering nightmares and frightened to answer the door.

Watson, who has a previous conviction for fire-raising, attacked Miss Crossan at her home and doused her in lighter fuel before igniting it.

The 36-year-old, who had denied the attempted murder, threw the flammable liquid over Miss Crossan's head and body during the attempted murder.

She told his earlier trial: "My hair was on fire, my face, my neck was on fire. I lost quite a bit of my hair and my scalp was all burnt."

"Flames came right up at me. I just put my right hand up to my face, so the right side wasn't as badly burned as the left side. I had glasses on. If I hadn't I would have been blinded," she said.

She said she ran to the bathroom and dipped her head in water. She was taken by ambulance to St John's Hospital in Livingston.

Scarred for life

Miss Crossan was put in an induced coma while she was treated for burns following the attack.

She was scarred for life, has had to relearn how to walk and talk, and is still under going treatment.

She told the court Watson had threatened to "murder" her after she had disclosed information about him to his then-girlfriend.

Police found lighter fluid on the trainers he was wearing on the evening of the attack, and two cans of a similar fluid in his home in the village near Livingston, one of them empty.

Forensic scientists matched the lighter fluid to traces found on a top Miss Crossan had been wearing.

Defence solicitor advocate Mike Bell said: "He is resigned to the fact a long sentence of imprisonment awaits him."

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