Phil Bradley KC and Lynette McClement were instructed by the prosecution in the case of GC, who was accused of the murder of his ex-wife by pouring petrol over her in her house igniting the fumes and leaving her to die. He was also accused of making a threat to kill his wife’s new partner. On 12th October, following a 3-week trial before HHJ Montgomery KC, the jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts on both counts.

Opening the case on 27th September, Phil Bradley KC told the jury that KC and his ex-wife had been in a relationship for over 20-years and had remained together despite divorcing 10 years ago.  They remained together both because they had a son (aged 16 at the time of the killing) and because GC threatened to kill himself if she left him.

In 2016 the couple moved from Romania to the UK and settled in Stoke-on-Trent. They both found work, but problems continued in their relationship – largely because of GC’s gambling habit. In the Autumn of 2022, she finally grasped the nettle and asked GC to leave. He agreed to do so, eventually finding new accommodation in January 2023. Soon afterwards she fell into a relationship with a younger man, which provoked resentment and anger in the defendant, who referred to her as “The Bitch” when speaking to work colleagues. He told a manager at work, “I’m going to get the bitch”.

On 7th February, CCTV cameras captured him purchasing petrol from a garage on London Road in Stoke-on-Trent. GC later told the jury that he decanted the petrol into plastic drinks bottles and planned to take them to his ex-wife’s house to demonstrate to her that he would kill himself if she didn’t take him back.  The prosecution case was that he had murder in mind.

A day after the purchase, he was seen outside the house putting something behind the wall. The prosecution case was that this was petrol. Meanwhile, he arranged to meet his wife at the house on February 9th under the pretext of giving her some money to help with their son. CCTV saw a car dropping her home at just after 2.30pm.  Within minutes the defendant was seen walking away from the property, using a mobile phone. By now, his wife had been set alight – petrol having been pursed over her in the kitchen before a lighter was used to ignite the vapour. (The defendant later said the fire went off accidentally after she splashed petrol around the kitchen!)

The phone the defendant was seen using belonged to his ex-wife. He used it to compose a message to her boyfriend that the defendant had “sorted her out” and that he knew where the lover worked.  He composed another message on her Facebook page, saying that he had set her alight because of years of infidelity and that he would pay for his actions in front of the law. He also sent messages to his young son, blaming him for the death, “because you lied to me”.  The defendant then fled to London, where he was arrested 5-days later.

GC will be sentenced on 31st October 2023.