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Finsbury Park mum was found in bath with severe burns

Man, 44, who is accused of murdering his wife, stands trial at the Old Bailey

05 April, 2019 — By Emily Finch

FIREFIGHTERS found a mother-of-four living in the Andover estate suffering from severe burns in her bathtub, a court heard this week.

Kaltoun Saleh, 43, was taken to hospital but died seven weeks after the fire in Noll House, Corker Walk, in Finsbury Park. Her husband, Abdi Quule, 44, is on trial at the Old Bailey for her murder.

The prosecution say Ms Saleh was set on fire following an argument with Mr Quule, a taxi driver, in the early hours of the morning on July 5 last year. He denies murder.

Prosecuting, Jacob Hallam QC described how Ms Saleh was found by firefighters on the first floor in the bath. He said: “She had sustained severe burns which appeared to cover most of her body. One of her daughters was in that room with her.”

The jury heard how a used two-litre bottle of Homebase brand white spirit was found in the kitchen.

Darren Woodham, watch manager and fire investigation officer with the London Fire Brigade, who was on duty on the night of the fire, gave evidence on Tuesday.

He attended the scene from 4am to 7am after Ms Saleh, Ms Quule and four children were taken to hospital by ambulance.

He said there was a “smell in the air of accelerant” and a “bottle of white spirit was recovered on scene”. He described using a “gas tech survey” device to undertake a preliminary survey of the house. He said he found “elevated readings” that indicated the presence of “ignitable liquid”.

The court heard that there were bits of burnt clothing scattered around the maisonette including near a child-safety gate at the bottom of the stairs which showed evidence of fire damage.

Mr Woodham told the court: “On investigation it is my opinion that the clothing was contaminated with ignitable liquid, most likely white spirit. Her clothing [Ms Saleh’s] had come into contact with a naked flame, most likely by the ring of the cooker which most likely resulted in a fire.”

Mr Quule’s police interview from his hospital bed at Chelsea and Westminster hospital was also played to the court on Tuesday. He told officers he was watching TV in the living room when his wife caught on fire while cooking him porridge in the kitchen.

The trial, which is expected to last two weeks, continues.

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