The daughter of a murdered woman who died 21 years after being set on fire has revealed her first thoughts after the horrific attack on her mum.
In 1998 Jacqueline Kirk was doused in petrol and set alight in a Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, car park by her partner at the time, Steven Craig.
Following the horrifying attack, Kirk spent nine months in hospital undergoing 14 operations, including a tracheotomy and skin grafts.
While she managed to survive initially, Jacqueline was left with life-changing injuries, including burns to 35% of her body and in 2019 she succumbed to her injuries after 21 years, dying from a ruptured diaphragm.
58-year-old Craig was sentenced to a mandatory life term with a minimum of 15 years behind bars at Bristol Crown Court on Thursday morning for Jacqueline’s murder.
Jacqueline’s daughter Sonna, who was just 13 years old at the time of the attack, told Avon and Somerset Police how she and her brother Shane were afraid to visit their mum in hospital after the attack.
She said: “I knew she would be burnt and hard to recognise but when I walked into her room, I had to take the nurse’s word for this as the person I saw sitting in the bed was my mum as it looked nothing like her.
“I did my best to hide my shock and gave her a cuddle, but this person just didn’t look like my mum. She had a very skinny body, hardly any hair and a patchy face.
“She had tight skin on her face, no lips and just a slit for a mouth. She had no nostrils, and the scar tissue that pulled tight across her face was pulling her bottom eyelids down. She looked like an alien.”
Jacqueline’s son Shane also recalled that his mother’s relationship with Craig caused her to lose weight and lead a “chaotic” life.
He said in a statement: “I then realised how bad my mum’s relationship was with Steven and later learnt from Sonna that she had witnessed so many terrible things that she never see at such a young age.”
Shane also described how his mum’s mental health suffered after the attack and that she was so convinced that bugs were crawling under her itching skin that he agreed to help her hunt them.
He added: “I would find her hysterically pulling up carpets, even using a hammer to bash holes in the walls, convinced bugs were hiding in the wall cavities.”
Craig is said to have been “obsessed” with the 1992 film Reservoir Dogs, and it’s believed that a scene from the film inspired the monstrous attack.
In 2000 he was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and he served over 15 years in prison before being released, but was also recalled on two separate occasions.
In June 2021 Craig was arrested again and charged with Jacqueline’s murder following her death in August 2019 at the age of 61.
A jury at Bristol Crown Court unanimously convicted Craig of the murder last month, finding that the injuries he caused were linked to Jacqueline’s death.
In August 2019 Jacqueline suffered a ruptured diaphragm and was taken to Royal United Hospital in Bath, where she died the next day.
During Craig’s trial, jurors were told that scarring tissue in Jacqueline’s chest and abdomen meant that their ability to expand was reduced when she suffered from intestinal swelling.
Experts concluded that the old injuries led directly to her death, with the jury agreeing.
Jacqueline was able to see both of her children get married and also became a grandmother before her tragic death.