A GANG set a man on fire over a stolen £4 watch, a jury heard as the prosecution closed their case in an attempted murder trial.

Prosecution lawyers made their final submissions in the trial at Basildon Crown Court yesterday with four people accused of trying to kill a man in Southend.

The jury were previously shown CCTV footage of the man being set on fire in Southchurch Avenue on October 30, 2019.

John Caudle, prosecuting, said it was clear that all four were there to kill the man.

He said: “Can it really be about a £4 watch? We say that motive doesn’t matter. We don’t have to prove a motive, we have to prove that it happened and what the intention was when it did happen.

“Whether it was about the watch or anything else, the truth is the victim didn’t deserve such treatment.”

Alan Archer, 33, of Fairmead Avenue, Westcliff, Paul Bruns, 53, of York Road, Southend, Ben Ince, 41, of no fixed address, and Jane Reilly, 53, of Trowbridge Road, Harold Hill, deny attempted murder.

The jury previously saw footage of the man entering his home with severe burns and were told he had burns to 60 per cent of his body.

Paul Bruns admitted he went to Alan Archer’s home to take drugs before the four got into a car, but insisted he wasn’t aware of a plan to set the man on fire.


Mr Caudle told the jury that Jane Reilly had claimed to not remember the incident.

He continued: “In relation to memory with Jane Reilly, you have an absurd performance when arrested.

“She was acting, she was lying, telling deliberate lies to save her own skin, even suggesting to the officers that she was a victim.

“She was able to remember and recite her own mobile phone number.

“The suggestion she was unable to remember setting fire to someone is as absurd as her mock outrage at being stopped by the police.”

Mr Caudle said that after the man was set on fire, none of the defendants appeared concerned for his welfare, and that Reilly had picked up the can again and walked towards him.

He added: “If you were shocked, the last thing you would do is take a can of petrol towards the burnt man.

“There is only one viable explanation and that is he was still moving and she wanted him finished off.”

The trial continues.