A dad was put on trial in Australia accused of pouring petrol over his three-year-old daughter’s head in a drunken fit of rage, and setting her on fire because she was ‘too beautiful’ a court heard.
The alleged attack by Edward John Herbert of Perth, Australia, left the girl with ‘severe and life-threatening burns’ to 13% of her body, and has been left permanently scarred.
The girl’s seven-year-old autistic sister was also doused in petrol, but not set alight.
The prosecution claimed prior to the attack Herbert, 44, had chased his partner with a knife and threatened to blow up the house.
Hearing screaming coming from Herbert’s home, an off-duty police officer who lived next door ran to help, and found a scene of horror.
Fighting back tears, Constable Stephanie Bochorsky told the Supreme Court of Western Australia she’d gone round with the intention of checking if Herbert’s partner was OK. However, when she’d entered the house, Bochorsky had found the three-year-old girl in her cot with ‘her whole head on fire’.
As the officer smothered the flames with a blanket, she saw Herbert pouring petrol over his older daughter in her bed. She told him to get away from the children, but Herbert did not respond or move and was said to be acting strangely.
The policewoman then grabbed the toddler and dragged the older girl out of her bed, and ran out of the house during the incident in August 2015.
Another neighbour Daniel McMillan told the court he’d gone into Herbert’s home after the attack and found him pacing round the kitchen drinking beer. Mcmillan claimed when he’d asked his neighbour what he’d done, Herbert had stated he’d set his three-year-old daughter on fire because she was ‘too beautiful’.
Herbert is then said to have claimed ‘they were his kids’ and he could do whatever he wanted. He was then said to have thrown bottles at Mr McMillan and lunged at him with a knife, before Mr McMillan hit him over the head with a fire extinguisher.
As Herbert’s son was taken from the house, his father allegedly said: ‘Don’t worry, I wouldn’t have lit my boy up.’
The court heard Herbert was a heavy cannabis user as well as a heavy drinker, and was angry ‘all the time’. His partner also claimed he’d recently started talking about werewolves.
Herbert admits he intended to kill both girls, but has pleaded not guilty to five charges including attempting to kill his daughters on the grounds of being of unsound mind.
He was found guilty of setting his three-year-old little girl on fire and covering her seven-year-old sister in petrol.