A man jailed for the horrific attack that caused a young mother’s face to burn away had his jail sentence increased to life.
Raymond Bowen had been jailed for 19 years in April after he doused Kirsten Ashby in petrol and set her alight turning her into a human fireball.
As his the 27-year-old screamed in agony she could see him smirking and smoking a cigarette through the flames.
Today Lord Justice Davies said the sentence was “unduly lenient” for a man who deliberately fetched petrol from a garden shed to carry out the attack. Bowen had admitted a charged of attempted murder.
The judge increased the sentence to life with a minimum of 12 years to serve and said: “We have found this to be an extremely difficult and upsetting case.
“The summary of events illustrates just how utterly cruel and callous the actions of the offender were, and the appalling life changing affects on Kirsten and her family.
“She and they will have everyone’s total sympathy. He ought to be remorseful for the rest of his life.”
Even Bowen’s own barrister, Laban Leake, conceded that the sentence was lenient and he would have had “no cause for complaint” if he had received a heftier or life sentence.
Robert Buckland QC, prosecuting, told Appeal Court Judge Lord Justice Davis, Mr Justice Goss and Mr Justice Kerr, that the case would not be the last where victims were left with horrific injuries.
He said: “It is our submission that the starting point in this case should have been a life sentence.
“Sadly this is unlikely to be the only case that will be for the court due to modern medicine that keeps victims alive who would have died without it.”
Miss Ashby, who lived next door to Bowen, who was left with no fingertips, no ears, layers of her skin on her face melted away, as well as her shoulder-length dark hair burned to a cinder, has remained in hospital since the attack in Bletchley eight months ago..
Her injuries were so severe her face was left unrecognisable from the third degree burns after she was turned into a human fireball when the fuel was poured over her and set alight with a lighter.
The young mum was attacked after she went to help Bowen’s girlfriend who was suffering from a fit. However, instead of being grateful for the neighbourly act, Raymond Bowen threw petrol over her and stood smoking a cigarette as he lit the flammable liquid with a lighter which consumed her body. Kirsten told how he “looked smug” as she was set ablaze
Her parents Lynn and Paul, who live on the Lakes Estate, have taken care of Kirsten’s daughter Maddison since the horrific attack and visited her in hospital as she has undergone a staggering 80 operations to start rebuilding her face and body.
Lynn was at the case in the Court of Appeal, in London and revealed today/yesterday (Thurs) that Kirsten was at home and spending three days a week at hospital’s for treatment.
She had to spend 20 hours each day in a compression body sticking and face mask for the next two years.
She had also had fingers amputated and had lost all use of her hands.
The pain she suffers was hard to manage the court was told.
Kirsten’s parents, who were told to expect the worst as she was not expected to survive the horrific ordeal, have since raised almost £30,000 pounds for home alterations for her return home.
In the first month after the incident Kirsten was placed in the medically induced coma so her body could deal with the shock and pain caused by the extensive burns and she started to pull through.
Mrs Ashby told the Citizen in April: “She went there to help, yet what this man did ruined her life and changed our family’s life forever.
“My lovely daughter was unrecognisable. She had no face - it was all burned away.
“At first the doctors said she might not pull through. They prepared us for the worst and they put her in a coma for four weeks so her body could cope with the shock and the pain.
“Even while Kirsten was in the coma, doctors began the process of repairing the horrific damage.
“Her ears were gone. Her fingertips had to be amputated. Her body is so weak that she is having to learn to walk again.
“Kirsten is still psychologically traumatised and obviously upset about the way she looks. However, the biggest problem is that she can’t use her hands, so she is unable to do so many things.”
Father-of-five Bowen admitted a single charge of attempted murder on November 17 last year, and blew kisses to his girlfriend from the dock as he was sentenced by a judge at Luton Crown Court in April.
Kirsten was a patient at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and has since been moved to Stoke Mandeville Hospital which specialises in burns injuries to begin rehabilitation.
Her injuries mean she will need care for the rest of her life after the attack in Somerset Close, Milton Keynes, Bucks.
The appeal case was brought to the court of a under Section 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. following a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service that Bowen’s sentence was too lenient.
The Solicitor General presented the appeal himself and Mr Buckland QC said after the hearing: “The decision to refer was based upon concern that a life sentence was available in this case because of the seriousness, not just that culpability, but the harm, the permanent harm that has been done to Kirsten.
“We felt a life sentence with a minimum term was appropriate and I am pleased the Court of Appeal agreed.”
A fundraising page has been set up for the Ashby family. Donate via https://uk.gofundme.com/kirsten-and-maddison-fund