Gary Mills poured petrol on his partner's legs, set her alight and then ran away leaving her to die, a High Court jury has heard.
The 44-year-old Ngongotaha man is on trial in the High Court at Rotorua for the murder of Lyn Delzoppo, who died in Waikato Hospital 27 days after allegedly being set alight and three days after her 44th birthday.
Mills is charged with murdering Ms Delzoppo between May 1 and May 28 last year and with arson after allegedly setting fire to the Taui St home they shared on May 1.
Crown Prosecutor Fletcher Pilditch told the court, the couple had been living together since 2001 and it had been a rocky relationship.
"It was a relationship that was tragic in many senses. They both drank alcohol ... people described them as alcoholics," he said.
"Sadly, as often in these cases, it results in domestic disharmony. They argued and fought with each other."
About 10.50pm on May 1, the disharmony culminated in Mills allegedly pouring petrol over Ms Delzoppo and the house, igniting it and running away.
She suffered fatal burns to about 45 per cent of her body.
Moments later, neighbours noticed the inferno and rang for help.
Mills was seen running down the road.
One neighbour, Karen Lambert, will give evidence to say she heard a muffled voice crying out, "I'm hurt, I'm hurt. I'm burnt", he said.
Ms Lambert will also tell the court Ms Delzoppo's skin was peeling off into hands and her "hair falling out in clumps", as she tried to comfort her until help arrived.
Ms Lambert had discovered her neighbour cowering next to a dog kennel.
She will also say how Ms Delzoppo told her, "He tipped petrol over me and the house and then he ran away", Mr Pilditch said.
A strong smell of petrol filled the ambulance as paramedics treated Ms Delzoppo before she slipped into a coma, the court heard.
"They smelt petrol. It was soon overcome by the smell of burning flesh ... she soon became unconscious," Mr Pilditch said.
A motorist will give evidence to say they recognised Mills as he ran towards them on Taui St just before 11pm - "He waved and smiled at them".
Mills went to a local bar and asked someone to ring for help screaming, "my house is on fire, it's all gone, it's all gone", Mr Pilditch said.
Fire investigators will say the fire was deliberately lit. "This was no accidental fire ... ," he said.
When spoken to by police, Mills told them he had gone to bed at 7pm and Ms Delzoppo must have fallen asleep with a cigarette lit or a candle going and possibly spilt vodka on her legs, the court heard.
- DAILY POST