Man convicted of murdering ex-partner who died 21 years after ’Reservoir Dogs’ attack

Steven Craig and Jacqueline Kirk (PA)
Steven Craig and Jacqueline Kirk (PA)

A man has been convicted of murdering his former partner who died 21 years after he doused her with petrol and set her on fire.

Steven Craig, 58, is believed to have been inspired by a scene in the film Reservoir Dogs when he inflicted horrendous injuries to Jacqueline Kirk in a car park in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, in April 1998.

Ms Kirk, a mother-of-two, was in hospital for nine months following the attack and suffered burns to 35% of her body, requiring a tracheotomy and operations including skin grafts.

In 2000, Craig was convicted of grievous bodily harm with intent relating to Ms Kirk following a trial at Bristol Crown Court and served more than 15 years in prison for that attack and two offences against a different woman.

Jacqueline Kirk was in hospital for nine months following the attack and suffered burns to 35% of her body (PA)
Jacqueline Kirk was in hospital for nine months following the attack and suffered burns to 35% of her body (PA)

Ms Kirk died from a ruptured diaphragm at the age of 61 in August 2019, with Craig arrested on suspicion of murder in July 2021.

A jury at Bristol Crown Court unanimously convicted him of her murder on Friday following a three-week trial.

Ms Kirk’s family shouted “yes” and wept as the jury returned the verdict.

Mrs Justice Stacey thanked the jury for their work during the case.

The judge said: “By your verdict, you have ensured that justice has been done and there is closure for Ms Kirk’s family.

“That is hugely important and it is your role over the past three weeks that has enabled that to happen.”

Craig, who was remanded in custody, will be sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on November 9.

Undated handout photo issued by Avon and Somerset Police of Steven Craig (PA)
Undated handout photo issued by Avon and Somerset Police of Steven Craig (PA)

Richard Smith KC, prosecuting, told the court Craig had been handed a discretionary life sentence for his attack on Ms Kirk during previous proceedings.

He served more than 15 years in prison before being released but was recalled on two separate occasions.

This means he has spent 17 years and six months in total in prison and remains on life sentence, Mr Smith said.

Speaking after the verdict, Andrew Pritchard of the Crown Prosecution Service said Craig was now held responsible for the “full consequences” of his actions.

“When Stephen Craig was jailed in 2000 for causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Jacqueline Kirk, no-one knew that his actions would eventually lead to Jacqueline’s death,” Mr Pritchard said.

Jacqueline Kirk and her daughter Sonna on her wedding day (PA)
Jacqueline Kirk and her daughter Sonna on her wedding day (PA)

“As a result, the original sentence he served did not reflect the full consequences of his appalling actions.

“The passage of time between the attack and Jacqueline’s death 21 years later made this a highly unusual and challenging case, and meant that approval was needed from the Attorney General to proceed with a prosecution for murder.”

Her daughter, Sonna, said her mother’s stubbornness and sense of humour got her through her ordeal.

She told the BBC: “She was strong willed, strong minded, very funny, very kind of witty, a dark humour”.

She said her mother “loved being outdoors” and found solace in nature, but added: “It was very hard being outdoors at first because people would stare at her, people would look at her in disgust, people would cross the road from her”.

She added that getting a puppy and befriending other dog walkers as well as developing an interest in nature photography had transformed her life.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Almond, of Avon and Somerset Police, described the mental and physical injuries suffered by Ms Kirk as “unimaginable”.

“Yet she surpassed doctors’ expectations and lived for a further 21 years, during which time she saw her children get married and several grandchildren born,” he said.

“While she managed to see many significant milestones, her life was still cut short by the injuries caused by Craig and it was only right that he was held fully accountable.”