We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Katrina Rainey, who was killed on 12 October, 2021. PSNI

Derry man who doused his wife in petrol and set her alight jailed for minimum of 18 years

Mr Justice O’Hara said ‘given the horror of what he did to his wife it is the least he deserves’.

A MAN HAS been sentenced to a minimum of 18 years in prison for murdering his wife in Co Derry by setting her alight in a car after throwing petrol over her.

Thomas Rainey, 61, of Quarry Road in Knockloughrim, Co Derry, had pleaded guilty to the murder of his wife, Katrina Rainey, 53, in October 2021.

Mr Justice O’Hara, who delivered the sentence at Belfast Crown Court today, said “given the horror of what he did to his wife it is the least he deserves”.

The incident occurred at the family home, when Ms Rainey was leaving for work and Mr Rainey opened her car door, covered her with petrol and then set her on fire.

A mother of six, Ms Rainey was still alive and being attended to by her children who were covering her with wet towels when emergency services arrived.

Ms Rainey was able to relay details of the attack to emergency services, some of which was captured on police bodycam, before she was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where she later died.

She told police that she had been to see a solicitor and she believed the attack was her husband’s retaliation to the pending divorce.

Ms Rainey also told police that she was unable to get out of the car due to her seatbelt being fastened so she kept “hitting the horn and screaming”.

As a result of the brutal attack 90% of Ms Rainey’s body was covered with burns.

The defence put forward that Mr Rainey had no previous history of domestic abuse, but Mr Justice O’Hara stated during sentencing “the murder of a wife who is seeking a divorce is in itself a definitive act of domestic violence”.

In court today, Thomas Rainey sat in the dock awaiting sentence wearing a red jumper and striped shirt. He did not react when the sentence was handed down.

Mr Rainey had received a mental health assessment after his arrest that found he was suffering from a depressive disorder of moderate severity, but the court stated that this was not so severe as to prevent him from exercising self-control or understanding his actions.

Mr Justice O’Hara also stated that Ms Rainey was in a “particularly vulnerable” position inside the car where she had “no realistic hope of escape” when she was attacked and the fact that Mr Rainey had put petrol in a bucket and had a lighter on hand indicated premeditation.

In a victim impact statement Ms Rainey’s mother said “my life has been taken too”, adding that she worries about the long-term impact on her grandchildren who witnessed their mother covered in flames.

Speaking outside Belfast Crown Court, PSNI Detective Inspector Hazel Morrow said Katrina Rainey died a “horrific death”.

“Mrs Rainey was in the car, with her seatbelt on, about to leave for work that morning. Thomas Rainey opened the passenger door, he threw flammable liquid over his wife and set her alight,” she said.

“On arrival at the scene, officers, along with other emergency services, found Katrina outside the burned vehicle, having sustained severe and extensive burns to her body.

“She was taken to hospital but, sadly, later died from her injuries.”

Morrow said Ms Rainey was a “caring and loving mother”, adding that her children and wider family circle have experienced “unimaginable grief and anguish”.

“They are still trying to come to terms with losing their loved one in such horrific circumstances,” she said.

“Today, thanks to our dedicated investigation team and working in partnership with our colleagues in the Public Prosecution Service, the defendant has been held accountable for his actions, actions that were deliberate and shocking and which have left a family shattered.

“While today’s sentencing signifies the end of the judicial process, I know that Katrina’s family will be walking away with the heaviest of hearts. My thoughts remain firmly with them.”

Press Association