AN ABUSIVE husband stormed his former mother-in-law’s house, doused her in petrol and set her alight, an inquest heard.

The jury, at Essex Coroner’s Court today, was told Kieren Lynch armed himself with a knife and also set himself on fire at the home in Boyce Green, South Benfleet, causing fatal burns which led to his death later that day.

The inquest is taking place to determine the circumstances surrounding the death of the 50-year-old from Canvey and 72-year-old Jennifer Cronin, who died from her injuries two weeks later.

Susan Lynch, Mrs Cronin’s daughter and Lynch’s ex-wife, told the jury they had been married for 25 years but the marriage fell apart after Lynch developed a cocaine addiction and became violent and unpredictable.

The couple separated in November 2016 which led to an escalating pattern of harassment and threatening behaviour from Lynch, culminating in the horrific attack on March 13 last year.

Describing that day, Mrs Lynch told the jury she went round to her mother’s that morning because Lynch had been hounding her with phone calls the previous night which had left Mrs Cronin anxious and frightened.

Mrs Lynch said: “I let myself in and locked the door behind me. I was quite strict with my mum saying we’re not going to let him bully us or beat us.

“I said ‘let’s take the dog for a walk’, she was in a terrible state but we got up and she got dressed.

“Mum had taken the dog to the garden. I recall getting another call from the police at that time about their investigation.

“While I was on the phone, mum was in the garden with the dog and just so quickly, Kieren came running down the garden. He had a knife in his hand and was screaming and swearing.

“He was running at my mum and he had a petrol can in his other hand. He threw liquid on her face and then she cowered down screaming and he threw it over her head.”

Mrs Lynch said she hung up with the police and rang 999 before fleeing the house.

She added: “In my thoughts, he had possibly seen me there and was coming to get me - I couldn’t think why he would want to harm my mum.

“In my mind, he was going to run past her to come in the house. I thought if I ran to my mum, he had a knife so I ran out the front door.”

Mrs Lynch ran down Boyce Green screaming for help and was approached by neighbours who went to her mother’s home to see what had happened.

“Two ladies came out of the garden and said ‘don’t go round there - there’s two burnt bodies’. I ran straight past them into the garden.

“Mum was lying on the patio. I could still speak to her but she was badly burnt. One lady was next to her holding her and another lady was telling me what had happened.”

Mrs Cronin had suffered 33 per cent surface area burns, mostly confined to her head and face. She was airlifted to a specialist burns unit at Broomfield Hospital.

The court heard she suffered full thickness burns to her face which could not be treated and so the decision was taken to give her end of life care. She died on March 30 in hospital.

Kieren Lynch was slumped up against a brick barbecue and had suffered burns which covered 96 per cent of his body.

He was airlifted to the same hospital but died at 8.30pm that night.

A toxicology report found he had cocaine and alcohol in his system.

Assistant coroner Tina Harrington told the jury they would be determining whether the state had committed any errors which led to Lynch and Mrs Cronin’s deaths.

The inquest continues.