THE long road to justice saw a petrol attacker try to feign blindness to escape prison.

Jane Reilly was branded "the worst witness ever heard" by a judge during the trial over an attempted murder.

Reilly and her former partner Alan Archer were lambasted by Judge Samantha Leigh saying their behaviour “beggars’ belief” when they tried to kill the man in Southend.

The duo filled up a five litre can of petrol at a BP garage on London Road in the middle of the night, before going to a house in Southchurch Avenue, Southend, dousing the man with the fuel and setting fire to him twice on October 30, 2019.

The incident was all caught on CCTV.

The crime scene in Southchurch Avenue

The crime scene in Southchurch Avenue

Reilly had given evidence in court hearings when on trial for attempted murder in Southend, trying to claim she did not try to kill the man.

She went along with this, despite the CCTV clearly showing her arriving and throwing petrol over the victim in Southchurch Avenue.

Reilly told the court that she could not see the monitor showing the footage in the court room, and that she couldn’t see the judge acting out what it showed.

Judge Samantha Leigh said the performance was “worthy of an Oscar, but it was dishonest”.

She said: “She was the worst witness I have ever seen.

“She said she couldn’t see the screen.

“I gave her a demonstration, she said she couldn’t see that.”

Ringleader - Jane Reilly

Ringleader - Jane Reilly

The judge laid out the horrible facts of the case in her damning sentencing remarks.

She said: "Reilly, you threw something at him and Archer you poured petrol over him.

“He turns to run but he’s not free to do so. Archer is then seen to lean in and light him, Reilly also leans in at the same time.

“He then runs to the grass area trying to remove his T-shirt, he threw himself on the floor trying to put the flames out, a perfectly normal reaction. Archer attacks him by punching him.

“Reilly, having followed can in hand, we saw a flash.

“In my view this is not a reignition and I am satisfied there was a second ignition.”

The victim suffered burns to 60 per cent of his body and ended up losing four toes.

Judge Leigh said that after driving off, Reilly and Archer had driven around several times in the area, even pulling up while the emergency services were present, and shouting at the victim’s girlfriend, who witnessed the attack, asking if she was ok.

The crime scene in Southchurch Avenue

The crime scene in Southchurch Avenue

The Judge said: “The sheer arrogance of that move shows that the attack was evil and an arranged plan to set fire to him.

“There was some morbid fascination to circle around the area and ask the victim’s girlfriend if she was alright. It beggar’s belief.”

Archer, 33, of Fairmead Avenue, Westcliff, and Reilly, 53, of Trowbridge Road, Harold Hill, were unanimously convicted by a jury of attempted murder at Basildon Crown Court following a three-week trial.

Judge Leigh added: "In my view I have seen no remorse from either of you at all. He was a friend, and he was repaid by being set alight."

The duo were jailed for 24 years each. Reilly showed no emotion, while Archer bowed his head as he was taken down.

Thug - Alan Archer

Thug - Alan Archer