Man convicted of killing girlfriend in scalding bath walks free

Clare Bell, 42, died after suffering serious scalding injuries. Credit: Staffordshire Police

A man who was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter for leaving his parter to die after she was scalded in a bath has avoided jail time.

Mark Clowes, 53, from Audley in Staffordshire, ran the boiling hot bath for 43-year-old Clare Bell at 11am on 9 August 2020.

He then helped her out of it as she had been drinking, police said.

It would have been obvious to Clowes that Ms Bell had suffered serious scald injuries in the incident as he later told a paramedic that "he saw that her skin had shed from her feet".

He then didn't check on his partner for hours, or call an ambulance, despite knowing she would have been incapable of doing it herself.

More than six hours later at 5.10pm, Clowes rang 999 - but Ms Bell, who was found on their bed, was already dead.

During his sentencing, High Court Judge Mr Justice Calver said: "I accept your gross negligent conduct was a lapse in your otherwise loving care. I consider this to be an exceptional case.

"This is a very sad case. Clare's death has had and continues to have a traumatic effect on members of her family.

"You are a functioning alcoholic. Clare was not only an alcoholic. She was suffering from alcohol ketoacidosis.

"Her death is as tragic and unnecessary as that of anybody who is killed."

Clowes was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years, with an alcohol treatment requirement for three months and a rehabilitation activity requirement for 60 days.

She had 30% full-thickness burns - with extensive scalding to her back, bottom, thighs, feet, arms and elbows.

These brutal injuries were consistent with being in a very hot bath - and the pathologist said that the scalding contributed to her death.

Detective Chief Inspector Cheryl Hannan said: "Clare should have been able to trust Mark to look after her when she was incapable. He didn’t do anything for Clare until it was too late.

"We employed a number of different experts to determine what took place that day.

"As well as a forensic pathologist, we employed the services of a specialist burns expert and a toxicology expert.

"Our thoughts remain with Clare’s family and I hope they can take some comfort in the guilty verdict."

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