Briton jailed for burning lover

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The Independent Online

A jilted lover who doused his former girlfriend with gasoline and set her on fire was sentenced to at least 14 years in prison on Thursday.

A jilted lover who doused his former girlfriend with gasoline and set her on fire was sentenced to at least 14 years in prison on Thursday.

Language teacher Stephen Rae, 35, of Creiff, in Perthshire, Scotland, had pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm with intent to murder British nurse Gabriella Mazzali in February last year.

Announcing the sentence, Judge Angela Karpin told the Parramatta District Court that Rae had condemned Mazzali to a life of pain, disability and disfigurement.

Mazzali, 29, of Lincolnshire, suffered severe burns to 93 percent of her body in the attack at her apartment in western Sydney.

Karpin said Rae had wanted to destroy Mazzali's life.

"He extinguished forever the life she had as a successful and attractive young woman," she said. "She is doomed to be a prisoner of her injuries for the rest of her life."

Mazzali spent 13 months in hospital in Australia and England undergoing numerous operations including skin grafts.

Outside court, Rae's mother, Alicia Rae, said the family was considering an appeal. Rae "maintains that he had no intent to harm Gabriella on the night," she said.

Karpin sentenced Rae to a maximum of 19 years and eight months' imprisonment and set a minimum term of 14 years, nine months. Rae will be eligible for parole on Dec. 2, 2012.

According to courtroom testimony, Rae broke down the door of Mazzali's apartment in the middle of the night, poured five liters (1.3 gallons) of gasoline over her and set her on fire with a cigarette lighter.

Eight days ago, in a final submission before sentencing, defense lawyer Dennis Stewart told Parramatta court that leading up to the attack, Rae was falling apart emotionally.

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