A CHESHIRE woman who murdered her husband by pouring boiling sugar water over him as he slept was motivated to do so because of allegations of child sexual abuse.

Corinna Smith, also known as Corinna Baines, 59, appeared at Chester Crown Court on Friday, July 9, and was handed a life sentence with a minimum jail term of 12 years.

Smith, of Highfield Road, Neston, had previously been found guilty following a trial.

The jury heard she mixed boiling water with three bags of sugar, leaving Michael Baines with 36 per cent burns to his body.

The 80-year-old was taken to Whiston Hospital in the early hours of Tuesday, July 14, 2020, in a serious condition. He received treatment for his injuries but, despite the best efforts of medical staff, he died a month later – on Tuesday, August 18.

It can now be reported that, on July 13, Smith had been informed by her daughter about "devastating" allegations her husband had committed sexual abuse against children "for many years".

This included an allegation of child sexual abuse against the one child Corinna Smith and Michael Baines had together – Craig Baines – who tragically took his own life aged 25 in 2007.

In her sentencing remarks, the judge, The Honourable Mrs Justice Amanda Yip DBE, said: "He had been troubled before his death and had been to prison for a serious assault.

"You and other family members could not understand why Craig's life had taken this course.

"He had told you that the man he attacked had been a paedophile and that he had touched him sexually.

"The day before Craig's death, he had been in some distress and had said: 'Mum, he's a paedophile'.

"You understood him to be referring to the man he had assaulted. Craig seemed happier the next day and you did not explore what he had said further.

"This is something that you have felt guilty about ever since. You blamed yourself for Craig's death although you had no reason to.

"Your trial could not and did not explore the truth of the allegations made against your husband. The prosecution accepted that the allegations were made and that you believed them. No doubt the revelations were extremely distressing for you."

It was late that night when Smith mixed the three bags of sugar with about two full kettles worth of boiling water, a process which the court heard would have taken about 13 minutes.

After Smith poured the boiling sugar water on her husband of 38 years, she ran to a neighbour's house to tell them what she had done.

She was said by defence barrister Mary Loram to be "howling" in distress by the time police arrived.

Justice Yip added: "Although the background provides some explanation as to why you did what you did, I am sure you know that it cannot provide an excuse.

"Your actions cannot begin to be justified whatever you believed your husband had done. You have taken Mr Baines' life and caused terrible grief and shock for his children and those who loved him. The moving and dignified statements from his daughters and your son make that clear.

"Killing Mr Baines also took away any opportunity for the allegations to be tested. That took away his right to a fair trial, bearing in mind that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

"I have no doubt that this has caused untold pain to Mr Baines' children. The allegations are left hanging but unproven. This is a quite dreadful situation for the whole family. They are in no way to blame for any of this and they deserve the utmost sympathy."

Prosecuting, Mark Rhind said a number of victim personal statements from members of the family had been submitted to the court, outlining the distress they had suffered over the past year.

Sentencing, Justice Yip said: "I sentence you on the basis that your intention was to cause serious harm rather than to kill. Further, that intention was formed while you were in a state of distress.

"This was not a long-held and carefully formed plan. You made use of materials you already had at home. I accept that your initial reaction had been to call the police and that the intent to harm your husband only developed later when you were home and dwelling on what you had been told.

"Corinna Smith, for the murder of Michael Baines, I sentence you to life imprisonment. The minimum term will be one of 12 years, less the 166 days that you have spent on remand in custody and 96 days credit for time spent on a qualifying curfew.

"That term represents the minimum period you will be required to serve. After it is served, there is no guarantee that you will be released at that time, or at any particular time thereafter.

"It will be for the Parole Board to decide if and when you are fit to be released.

"You must also understand that if, and when, you are released you will remain subject to licence for the rest of your life and may therefore be liable to be recalled and to continue your detention if you reoffend."