Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting DN NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Dudley man jailed for turning ex-lover into human fireball
4:45pm Tuesday 3rd September 2013 in Local
A JILTED Dudley man who turned his former lover into a human fireball has been jailed for 19 years.
Damion Sheldon subjected Louise Pilkington to a horrific ordeal which left her with 16 per cent burns to her head, arms and shoulder.
The 42-year-old, who was found guilty of attempted murder after a week-long trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court, showed no reaction as he was led away to begin his sentence.
Judge John Warner told Sheldon it was clear he intended burning the house down adding: "It is by pure chance this did not end up as a catastrophe with a woman and two children dead."
He said Miss Pilkington had made it clear she wanted nothing more to do with Sheldon and he had inflicted great suffering while a nine-year-old child witnessed the "terrible" thing he did.
Sheldon, from Russells Hall Road, also set fire to his ex-lover's terraced home where a 13-month-old child was asleep and had to be rescued and resuscitated by firemen.
Sheldon, who denied attempted murder but pleaded guilty to arson and being reckless as to whether the life of the toddler was endangered, claimed he had been left heartbroken when Miss Pilkington dumped him after nine months and he said he wanted to end his own life.
The cable layer went to her house in Haden Walk, Rowley Regis, in the early hours of December 2 last year and poured petrol through the letter box but Miss Pilkington was woken by the barking of the family dog.
He spent the hours before the attack celebrating his birthday by drinking heavily, during which time he made increasingly menacing phone calls to his former partner.
When Miss Pilkington opened the front door she was confronted by Sheldon who poured petrol over her head and set her alight leaving her screaming for help. She told the jury: "The pain was like nothing I have felt."
One neighbour described her as being a "fireball" and said he could hear her skin "sizzling" while another threw a bucket of water over her body to help put out the flames.
Hugh O'Brien-Quinn, prosecuting, told the hearing in a victim impact statement Miss Pilkington said the incident had ripped apart their lives and she had been left "traumatised by his cowardly act."
He added the nine-year-old child continued to suffer from nightmares while she would forever bear the scars of Sheldon's actions.
During the trial Sheldon told the jury: "I had the petrol can above my head. I wanted Louise to see and feel my pain. She has utterly and completely destroyed me. I did not want to kill her. I loved her."
His barrister, Francis Laird QC, said it was clear his client "planned some escapade" adding: "He could not have known she would open the front door when she did."
He told the court Sheldon had significant emotional difficulties as a result of the end of the relationship and that explained how he ended up on her front doorstep with the petrol.
Investigating officer Dc Andy Barnsley, from West Midlands Police, said: "It is thanks to the woman's quick thinking, and the actions of neighbours and the emergency services that this was prevented from becoming a tragedy.
"I am satisfied that the courts realised the sickening nature of Sheldon's crime and have handed down a fitting sentence. I am certain that this will come as some comfort to all those affected by the fire."