true crime

Perth dad found guilty of setting his three-year-old daughter on fire.

A drug-using Perth father has been found guilty of setting his three-year-old daughter on fire and dousing her seven-year-old sister with petrol.

Edward John Herbert admitted his intention to kill at the family’s Doubleview home in August, but pleaded not guilty to five charges on account of being of unsound mind.

He stood trial in the WA Supreme Court before Justice Lindy Jenkins, who heard the case without a jury.

She returned the guilty verdicts on Monday and will sentence Herbert on May 15 after viewing a psychiatric report.

During the trial, Constable Stephanie Bochorsky fought back tears as she described seeing the three-year-old girl in her cot with “her whole head on fire”.

Const Bochorsky was off-duty and watching television in her neighbouring home when she heard an altercation between Herbert and his partner.

The officer ran into the house and covered the girl in a blanket to put out the flames and saw Herbert pouring petrol over the older child in her bed.

Const Bochorsky dragged the older girl out of bed and bolted.

Prosecutor Amanda Forrester told the court the three-year-old, who had burns to 13 per cent of her body, was permanently scarred.

Ms Forrester said Herbert was a cannabis user and drinker, who was behaving strangely leading up to the crime.

His partner said in her statement that before the attack he seemed to be talking to himself, and she was scared.

At one point that night he told her: “The werewolf is coming at 12 o’clock.”

Later, he said: “That’s it, bitch, I’m going to kill you.”

He then told her he would burn the children instead.

The woman said when she saw her burnt daughter she could “smell burning flesh” and the girl appeared to be in shock, screaming and crying.

A neighbour said in his statement that when he rushed into the house with a fire extinguisher, after the girls had been rescued, he found Herbert drinking beer in the kitchen.

Herbert told the neighbour he burnt his daughter because she was “too beautiful”.

He then lunged at the neighbour with a knife, but the man hit him on the head with the fire extinguisher.