Police hunt 'dangerous and unstable' fugitive who doused woman with petrol and set her alight in Manchester

GMP believe Stephen Archer maybe carrying several petrol bombs after attacking the 49-year-old

A manhunt is underway for a “dangerous and unstable” fugitive who doused a woman in petrol and set her alight in her Manchester home, police said.

Stephen Archer, 50, is “obsessed” with petrol and maybe carrying several petrol bombs after attacking the 49-year-old woman, Greater Manchester Police said.

Still in a critical condition, the woman who local media reported was his sister, has 70 per cent burns to her body, they added. She was taken to hospital via air ambulance.

“This is a horrific incident and I cannot imagine what the victim is going through,” said Superintendent Arif Nawaz, adding they had “reason to believe Stephen could be carrying several bottles of petrol in his backpack and a man was seen fitting his description cycling away from the scene.”

Police were called to an address in Surbiton Road, Newton Heath, shortly before 9.45am on Monday.

A 19-year-old woman escaped unharmed from an upstairs window with help from neighbours.

Police are treating the incident as attempted murder. Archer is known to police and to the mental health services and has links to the Stockport area.

"We can assure her and the wider public that we are doing all that we can to try and find the person responsible,” said Superintendent Nawaz. “We have a large multi-skilled team currently searching for Stephen Archer.”