Child sexual abuse allegations, especially when a family member is a perpetrator, can rip apart even the happiest of families. Corinna Smith was in her early 20s when she met the much older Michael Baines, who was then in his forties.
They joined hands to raise a large family together, but trouble knocked at their door after 30 years of marriage. Tragedy hit the family in 2007 when Corinna’s son, Craig, committed suicide at the age of 25.
His de*ath left recurring grief in the family that nobody, especially Corrina recovered from. Before he died, Craig had been in prison for bodily assault, which he told his family he committed because a “pedophile” had tried to sexually assault him.
Allegations of the Worst Sort
In July 2020, Corrina, now 59, had to listen to a horrifying story. Her young daughter told her how Baines, her father, had been sexually abusing children for years and had also abused her and her brother Craig. She also told her mother that Craig had gotten tired of facing his molester father and had seen respite only in de*ath. He k*illed himself for that reason.
Remembering that Craig had mentioned a pedophile to her before he died, Corinna concluded that her husband was indeed the man her son had been talking about. The infuriated and shocked Corrina didn’t think twice before orchestrating a plan to exact revenge on her husband.
The Sugar-Water Mu*rder
The very day after Corinna heard her daughter’s story of abuse, she carried out a vehement retaliation. On July 14th, 2020, in the early hours of the morning, Michael Baines, now 81, would be awakened by a concoction burning his body, causing his skin to flay and drip.
Corinna had gone and filled a large bucket with water from her garden- boiling water and dumped nearly 6 pounds of sugar in it to make a thick concoction. She carried it to her sleeping, unsuspecting husband and poured it over his chest and arms.
Her behavior indicated that she had planned to cause her husband of 38 years, serious harm. Instead of calling ambulance services or the police, she went down 9 doors from her house to a neighbor with whom she had barely spoken before and told him what she had done:
“I’ve hurt him really bad, I think I’ve ki*lled him.”
The man wasted no time in calling the police, who found Baines whimpering and moaning from pain, wishing for de*ath to give him some relief from burns that were causing his skin to peel off. When she was taken into custody, Corinna claimed that she remembered pouring the water on her husband and that the event was a blur,
“I just lost it and was so emotional, I was not acting out of revenge.”
Media frenzy descended on the generally quiet town of Neston.
Murd*er, Manslaughter, Questions of Justice
Michael Baines suffered severe second and third-degree burns on 39% of his body, and the viscous concoction which had seeped into his skin didn’t respond well to surgery or skin grafts. 5 weeks after the attack, he passed away at Whiston Hospital.
Corrina Smith was now facing mu*rder charges. She pleaded that her charges be manslaughter, citing loss of control after hearing about the allegations as the reason for ki*lling her husband.
Prosecutors, witnesses, and policemen had a different viewpoint, with Detective Chief Inspector Paul Hughes of the Cheshire Constabulary’s major crimes unit stating that her spending 13 minutes to boil the water, pouring and mixing in bags of sugar, and then running to a neighbor she barely knew instead of getting her husband help indicated a pre-meditated and calculated attack.
Prosecutor Mark Rhind argued that she had believed the allegations against her husband, didn’t stop to confirm them or confront him, and exacted vengeance for his crimes. He also argued that the viscous concoction was created to inflict the most possible damage to Baines, perhaps even designed to ki*ll him.
The defense argued that her rage against her husband for molesting a son who would later k*ill himself should reduce the charges against Corrina, but this point was rebutted by the argument that just because she believed the allegations to be true didn’t mean that she should have taken exacting justice into her own hands.
Presiding Judge Amanda Yip commented on how ill-advised Corinna’s actions were. She said,
“You found it difficult to take everything in, but made the connection between what Craig had said the day before he died and what your daughter was telling you.”
She, like the prosecution, was unsympathetic towards the methods Corinna had used to punish her husband, telling her,
“Your actions cannot begin to be justified whatever you believed your husband had done.”
The judge also had a few choice words about following the law, telling Corinna that she had exacted punishment without confirming the truth in the matter. The jury too was unconvinced by the plea for manslaughter, and Corinna was sentenced to life in prison. She is not liable for parole until 2032 and has to spend 12 years behind bars.
Aftermath- Differing Opinions
The sentencing of the Sugar-Water Murd*erer elicited different responses across social media. Many people, including parents, believe that Corinna was justified in her response to her husband’s supposed heinous crimes. Several petitions have been signed for Corinna’s release.
Some commenters go as far as to say that they too would act in similar ways if their children allege molestation at the hands of a parent. Other skeptics are unconvinced; they argue that she should have at the very least confronted him and then taken what action she chose.
Others argue that she had no right in any circumstance to attack and mu*rder him and that she should have consulted law enforcement to deal with him whether or not he was gu*ilty.