Original article no longer available
Manchester Evening News
June 8, 2005
A WOMAN poured petrol over her estranged husband and set fire to him before throwing herself off a motorway bridge.
Sheila Dawson, 54, was devastated when husband Paul, also 54, left her, a double inquest heard.
Their son James told the hearing: “When my father left she was an absolute wreck. We were trying to keep things together for her.”
She had been taking anti-depressants, sleeping pills and other tablets and James said she had tried to take her life previously and had suffered a worrying change in personality.
He said: “She had been very emotional and upset and she had said that she would find a bridge and jump off. I could never imagine her being that angry that she would do that.”
The Manchester inquest heard how engineering salesman Paul was living with girlfriend Sandra Jefferson. He had gone back to the family home in Moston in September to collect a belt for his bad back.
Mrs Dawson was thought to have thrown petrol on her husband and set him alight.
Minutes later, she drove to the Manchester Road bridge over the M60 and threw herself into the path of a lorry.
Statements from neighbours reported seeing Mr Dawson staggering around engulfed in flames before two workmen wrapped him in a dust sheet.
Mrs Dawson died instantly of multiple injuries. Mr Dawson died in October from multiple organ failure caused by burns. The couple, who married in 1972, left two children.
Manchester Coroner Leonard Gorodkin recorded an open verdict on Mr Dawson saying he was “loathe to use” an unlawful killing verdict. He recorded a suicide verdict on Mrs Dawson.