The girlfriend of a man doused in petrol and set alight in a public housing block at Mangerton has described the moment her partner became engulfed in fire – and the horrific injuries she witnessed in the immediate aftermath.
“His whole body just went up in blue flames,” Laura Kirby told a Wollongong jury convened on Tuesday to hear the criminal case against her partner’s alleged attacker, Timothy Illingworth.
The Crown alleges Illingworth used a tomato sauce-style bottle to squirt petrol over Ms Kirby’s partner, Joseph Baldacchino, in the stairwell of a Myuna Way apartment block on the evening of January 24 last year.
Illingworth is then accused of setting Mr Baldacchino alight using a barbecue-style lighter.
Mr Baldacchino received burns to 17.5 per cent of his body and spent time in the burns ward at Concord Hospital.
Police arrested Illingworth that night and charged him with causing grievous bodily harm with intent.
Illingworth denies any involvement in the incident and has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
In court on Tuesday, Mr Kirby said she and Mr Baldacchino had been at the unit block to see another tenant about Ms Kirby’s missing car keys when Illingworth began following them up the stairwell with his dog, a Pitbull named Conan.
Mr Kirby told the court Illingworth and his girlfriend, Kylie Graham, were yelling and swearing at the pair, telling them to leave.
She claims Illingworth tried to set the dog onto them, prompting the coupple to head back down the stairs to leave.
She claims she was recovering their pushbikes at the entry doorway when she saw Illingworth squirt liquid over Mr Baldacchino upper body and face then set him alight.
She said she immediately grabbed Mr Baldacchino’s head and put it to her chest in a bid to extinguish the flames before forcing him to the ground to “stop, drop and roll”.
She said Mr Baldacchino then ran to a neighbour’s house where she found him in the shower recess.
“I followed his screaming,” she said.
“I seen his skin on his arms drop off into the shower….his nose dropped off….his whole face was gone,” she said.
She said the scene was so horrific a female paramedic who arrived to help Mr Baldacchino ran from the room screaming.
“When she helped him out of the shower his skin fell off. She went out screaming, she couldn’t handle it,” Ms Kirby said.
The trial continues.