Simon Gurney secures conviction of petrol bomb murderer

Stephen Archer was sentenced today by Mr Justice Openshaw at Manchester Crown Court to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 27 years following his conviction for the murder of his sister, after a trial lasting 2 weeks.

Simon Gurney was instructed as Junior Counsel for the Prosecution in what was a harrowing and challenging case.

Julie Archer died on 3rd March 2016, three days after Stephen Archer had set her on fire using a cocktail of petrol and mineral spirits which he threw over her before igniting her. The Judge found that the mixture had been chosen by Archer to ensure that the fuel burnt for longer and that the growth of the fire was accelerated.

She suffered 95% burns to her entire body and had to be put into an induced coma, but tragically never recovered from her injuries.

The attack, which occurred in Newton Heath, occurred because of Stephen Archer’s deluded belief that his sisters, Julie and Gillian, had murdered their father, to cover up for stealing from him and in an attempt to disinherit Stephen Archer.

In denying murder, Stephen Archer falsely claimed that his sister had attacked him with a knife and that he had merely picked up the petrol and thrown it in self-defence. He claimed that the ignition of the petrol was an accident, caused by the spark from a cigarette lighter.

The jury rejected Archer’s account after three-and-a-half hours in retirement.

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