Man set on fire may have been revenge victim

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The Independent Online
A father of four who was soaked in petrol and set alight may have been the victim of a revenge attack after he stopped a gang of young men breaking into a car and his home.

Andrew King, 30, an unemployed carpet-fitter, was set upon by masked men outside his home in Shay Lane, Ovenden, Halifax, West Yorkshire, as he returned from buying fish and chips. He was described as comfortable in hospital last night after suffering 40 per cent burns.

Police disclosed yesterday that Mr King had recently been involved in two incidents involving young men after which someone pushed a roll of paper filled with lighted matches through his letter box.

Mr King was attacked on Tuesday evening by two to four hooded men who had been waiting for about half an hour outside his house. He tried to fight off his assailants but was forced into a nearby shed where they poured petrol over him and set him alight. A passing lorry driver and a taxi driver covered him with a rug and used a fire extinguisher to put out the flames.

He was taken to the special burns unit at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, with injuries to his lower body. His condition has stabilised and police were able to interview him yesterday afternoon. Police described Mr King as a respectable, well-liked family man.

His wife Rachel, 24, heard her husband's screams as she watched television with their baby Joshua, daughters Chan-telle, six, Charmaine, four, and son Christopher, nine.

She said: "I heard terrible screams and I rushed out to see Andrew lying on the ground with his clothes on fire. He was writhing on the ground in agony and screaming, `God help me, God help me'. Nobody deserves this. I can't imagine which maniacs could have done this . . . Andy has told me from hospital that he doesn't know who the masked men were.

"He is such a placid and happy-go-lucky person, he's not one to get caught up in trouble."

About a month ago, Mr King had got involved in an argument with some young men who were trying to break into a vehicle.

In a separate incident, he warned off a gang who were climbing on his conservatory roof. He claimed that they were trying to break-in and reportedly gave them a "good hiding".

Police are treating the attack as attempted murder.