Manchester man 'burnt sister to death'

Stephen Archer Image copyright GMP
Image caption Stephen Archer denies murder and arson with intent to endanger life

A man killed his sister by setting fire to her and then posted her a "get well soon" card, a jury heard.

Manchester Crown Court heard that Stephen Archer wrote "Karma has punished you through me" on the card after throwing petrol over his sister Julie Archer and igniting it.

Prosecutor Mark Kellett said Mr Archer, 50, "must have intended to cause serious harm or to kill her".

Mr Archer denies murder and arson with intent to endanger life.

Ms Archer, 49, died from "horrific injuries" three days after Mr Archer, threw a mixture of petrol and mineral spirit on her at her home in Newton Heath, near Manchester in February, the court heard.

Mr Kellett said: "The defendant emptied the bottle of flammable liquid over her, ignited the vapour and set fire to Julie and the house.

"The Crown say the defendant must have intended to cause at the very least really serious harm or to kill her."

'Loud explosion'

Ms Archer's daughter, Quibilah Archer-Cunningham, 19, was upstairs at the time and described hearing a loud explosion that resembled an "earthquake".

Despite suffering 95% burns, Ms Archer told paramedics: "He's done it, he's thrown it at me", and added: "My brother Stephen, he has been threatening to kill me and my sister for the last three weeks since my dad died."

Mr Kellett said the actions of Mr Archer were the result of "growing hostility" towards his sisters Julie and Gillian following the illness and death of their father Jeffrey.

Mr Archer was arrested on 4 March after he was spotted by an off-duty police officer at New Mills railway station, the court heard.

When arrested, he told officers: "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to kill her. I just wanted to maim her."

Mr Archer made no comment in interview, but after he was charged with murder he wrote to the Crown Prosecution Service and referred to the death as "a freak accident".

The trial continues on Monday.

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