Page last updated at 13:51 GMT, Friday, 1 May 2009 14:51 UK

Bed blaze killer jailed for life

Christopher Bowyer
Bowyer will spend a minimum of 25 years in prison

A care assistant who murdered a 79-year-old dementia patient at a Cheshire care home by setting fire to her bed has been jailed for life.

Christopher Bowyer, 25, used a lighter to set fire to Mary Bennett's quilt at the Clayton Manor Care Home, Congleton, in August 2008.

Mrs Justice Dobbs, sentencing at Chester Crown Court, described him as a "danger to society".

He was ordered to serve a minimum of 27 years before parole.

Bowyer, of Antrobus Street, Congleton, was convicted of murder and arson with intent to endanger life on Thursday. He had denied the charges.

You will remain in prison until you are no longer a danger to society
Mrs Justice Dobbs

The judge told Bowyer he showed "no remorse, emotion or concern" in the aftermath of the fire.

She said: "You will remain in prison until you are no longer a danger to society."

During the trial, Elwen Evans QC, prosecuting, told the court that Bowyer held a cigarette lighter to Mrs Bennett's quilt until it was "well alight".

He then stood and watched before fleeing the room and pretending he had nothing to do with it.

Det Ch Insp Paul Bailey said forensic evidence ruled out Bowyer's story

His victim had Alzheimer's and dementia and could not move or communicate as the flames took hold.

Mrs Bennett was taken to a specialist burns unit in hospital in Manchester, where she died a week later.

A post-mortem examination found the cause of death was bronchial pneumonia brought on by smoke inhalation and burns.

Speaking after the hearing, Det Ch Insp Paul Bailey, who led the murder investigation for Cheshire Police, said Bowyer had "exploited the vulnerability of Mary" and had ended her life "callously and despicably".

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