Michael Baines, 81, died as a result of being doused in boiling sugar water as he slept. Baines’ wife of 38 years, Corinna Smith, 59, was found guilty of his murder.
The Series of Events
On July 14, 2020, in the early morning hours, Smith arrived at the family’s home on Highfield Road in Neston, UK. She boiled two kettles of water and placed the water into a bucket that she had retrieved from her garden. Then she added 3 kilograms (6.61 pounds) of sugar. Once the sugar was dissolved, Smith carried the bucket into the bedroom where her husband, Michael Baines, was sleeping. She dumped it over him, covering his torso and arms.
Smith immediately left the home and walked to a neighbor’s home, nine houses down from hers. When the residents answered the door, she explained what she had done, saying, “I’ve hurt him really badly. I think I’ve killed him.” They contacted emergency services.
Emergency services arrived at the Baines home and found Michael in bed suffering from burns so severe that the skin was peeling off of his right arm and hand. They rushed Baines to Whiston Hospital in Prescot, Merseyside, UK. He remained at Whiston Hospital for two weeks while he received treatment for the burns that covered 36% of his body. He was improving, but his condition took a downward turn and Baines died on August 18, 2020, as a result of his injuries.
Investigators learned Smith was Baines’s caregiver. The couple had been married for 38-years. Both Baines and Smith had children prior to their marriage and together, they had one son, Craig. The Baines family had struggled with the loss of their son, Craig, who had taken his own life in 2007, at 25-years-old. Craig had previously served a jail sentence for assaulting a man that he had stated was a pedophile.
Investigators discovered on July 13, 2020, a day before the incident, Smith had learned from a daughter that her husband had allegedly sexually assaulted his children over many years, while they were growing up. There were claims which alluded that Baines had sexually assaulted Craig as a child, but that claim was never substantiated due to Craig’s suicide before any investigation could take place. The sexual abuse was offered as an explanation for Craig’s mental health and springboard for his suicide.
Corinna Smith’s Trial
Police initially arrested Corinna Smith for the charge of grievous bodily harm. When Baines died as a result of his injuries, prosecutors amended her charge to murder. Initially, Smith pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but the court rejected her plea. It was determined that it took approximately 13 minutes to prepare the boiling sugar water mixture that Smith had used, which showed premeditation.
On June 15, 2021, Corinna Smith was found guilty at the Chester Crown Court after a five-day trial. She was sentenced to 12-years to life on July 9, 2021. This sentencing guideline means Smith will have to serve a minimum of 12-years before she can be considered for possible parole.
Judge Amanda Yip stated to Smith in court, “Your actions cannot begin to be justified whatever you believed your husband had done. You have taken Mr. Baines’s life and caused terrible grief and shock for his children and those who loved him. The moving and dignified statements from his daughters and your son make that clear. Your trial could not and did not explore the truth of the allegations made against your husband. The prosecution accepted that the allegations were made, and that you believed them. No doubt the revelations were extremely distressing for you.”
Paul Hughes, Detective Chief Inspector, Cheshire Constabulary Major Crimes Directorate, offered the following statement: