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February 27, 2009
Belair man doused with gasoline, set afire

Irvin James didn’t get a chance to finish cooking his rice and chicken at around 2:30 pm on Monday, February 23.{{more}}

Instead, the 28-year-old Belair resident was almost burnt to death – and is now just happy to be alive, as he recovers from his injuries at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.

Still in pain from the multiple burns across his face, arms, legs and other parts of his body, James spoke to SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, February 25th, from his bed on the male surgical ward, and said that he wants “justice” for what he is going through, and asked “What did I do to deserve this?”

According to James, he and his ex-girlfriend, Keithlyn Richards, 25, of Campden Park (whom he said he had taken to live with him while she was three months pregnant with someone’s child), broke up a few months ago, after a relationship of over two years.

Keithlyn Richards holds her head and cries as she sits on the ground in Belair.

The employee with the Public Health Department said that he still tried to support the two-year-old baby girl that he had been raising as his own, but said he was having problems with his ex-girlfriend’s attitude and with what she had been saying about him.

James said that Keithlyn visited him last Sunday and demanded money from him.

Luvena Cupid, James’ aunt, in whose downstairs James lives, told Searchlight that on Sunday Richards told her that James was with another girl and “he not giving the baby anything.”

James said that on the day in question, he had just put a pot with water on the fire to cook some rice and was cleaning and preparing the chicken when Richards showed up.

He said that she began searching the apartment for his new girlfriend who she believed to be there.

“My girlfriend was to come by me, so I told her that she had to leave,” he said.

Luvena Cupid relates the incident to police officers.

James claims that an argument ensued and said that Richards attacked him and he had to wrestle with her to get a knife out of her hand.

When the dust settled, he said that she agreed to leave and he went back to his cooking.

“I just hear boom and my skin catch ablaze,” James said.

He then realized that fuel had been thrown on him, which when it came in contact with the stove caused the explosion.

James claims that when he reached to the door in an attempt to escape, more of the fuel was thrown on him.

He said that he ran outside and fell to the ground and rolled to put out the flames, then ran upstairs to his aunt’s porch to get help.

Richards reportedly damaged her leg when she jumped over the bank of the Belair River, at the back of James’ home, after the incident.

When SEARCHLIGHT arrived in Belair shortly after the incident, Richards was seated on the ground, in obvious pain. She was then taken by the police to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital for medical attention, and was writhing in agony as the police officers lifted her into the police vehicle.

At press time Richards was still warded at the hospital and was assisting detectives as they continue their investigations into the incident.