Man sought over petrol attack sent birthday card to mother


A man wanted for questioning after a woman was doused with petrol and set alight has sent his mother a birthday card.

Detectives are looking to trace Stephen Archer, 50, in connection with the attempted murder.

The 49-year-old victim, reported to be Mr Archer's sister, remains in a critical condition after she suffered 70% burns to her body following Monday's incident in Newton Heath, Manchester.

Mr Archer's mother, Wendy, has made a direct appeal for her son to contact police after it was revealed she had received the birthday card.

She said: "Steve, I have got your card. I want you to know that no-one is controlling me and no-one is forcing me to send this message to you.

"I know you think I am covering things up but I am not. I do not want any harm to come to you. Will you please contact the police."

Police had warned that Mr Archer, of Victoria Street, Openshaw, may be carrying several bottles of petrol and on Thursday asked petrol station workers to be "extra vigilant" and alert the authorities if they think they see him.

Officers attended an address in Surbiton Road shortly before 9.45am on Monday to reports that a man had deliberately set fire to a woman.

A 19-year-old woman escaped uninjured from an upstairs window of the house, with help from neighbours, said police.

Superintendent Arif Nawaz, of Greater Mancheser Police, said: "Our thoughts are with the victim and her family. She is still critically ill in hospital and our specialist support officers are supporting the family through this extremely difficult time.

"I would like to thank the public for their help following our appeal to find Stephen Archer.

"We have followed several leads and have received some very helpful information but unfortunately we have still not found him.

"The investigation is ongoing and our large, multi-skilled team will not stand down until we find Stephen.

"We can assure the victim, the family and the wider public that we are doing everything we can to find the person responsible and bring them to justice.

"I would like to repeat our appeal to the public to have a look at Stephen's photo and get in touch with us if you have seen him or you have any idea where he could be.

"We are appealing to those who work in petrol stations to be extra vigilant and call police if you think you see him.

"Stephen usually wears a baseball cap, and carries a large rucksack and he is known to travel on a bicycle.

"Again, please do not approach Stephen Archer, but contact police as a matter of urgency by calling 999.

"We would encourage Stephen to come and talk to police. We can resolve this situation and discuss any issues that he may have."

Anyone with information should call the investigation team directly on 0161 856 62491, 999, or the independent charity, Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.