A LOT of people don’t go out, they don’t live, they don’t want to live... but I have been there and you can lead a normal life again.”

Those were words of Coral Newman who, days before Christmas two years ago, was soaked in petrol and set on fire by her ex-lover.

Rolling around in agony outside her home in Draymans Walk, Abingdon, skin melting all over her body, the mother-of-three was convinced Mark Bray had finally managed to kill her.

But, despite 60 per cent of her body being permanently disfigured, and a life-time of pain and suffering ahead of her, Ms Newman refused to give up.

Determined to tell her story, she wants women to fight back against domestic abuse and remember they do not deserve to live in fear.

She spoke out as Thames Valley Police unveiled the extent of domestic violence in Oxfordshire, where officers deal with a call every three hours.

Scaffolder Bray, of Parsons Mead, Abingdon, was sentenced to seven years in jail at Oxford Crown Court last year after admitting attempted murder.

Ms Newman, happy and smiling in her new Oxfordshire home, and mother to Jack, Charlie and George, said: “If I could speak to him I would say ‘You haven’t ruined my life, you’ve just changed it.’ In a way it’s better. I have more friends, a new house, and people tell me I’m their inspiration.”

Bray and Ms Newman were together for 18 months when their relationship became increasingly volatile culminating in Bray trying to kill her.

She spent three months in a specialist burns unit in West Sussex wrapped in bandages and weeks in a coma while doctors tried to reconstruct her skin.

She was so determined to get back to a normal life, she pushed herself to complete the physiotherapy before meeting with doctors to tell them she was going home.

Former school cook Ms Newman has thought about how she can use her experience to help others.

She said: “I wouldn’t mind helping people in similar situations. A lot of people don’t go out, they don’t live, they don’t want to live, but I’ve been there and you can lead a normal life again.

“I go out, I see my friends, I will not let him destroy my life. There’s still a long way to go, but I can do everything. I’m still Coral. I don’t feel self-conscious.

“Men like Mark try to manipulate you, so you become a stupid and pathetic person, but I never thought he would do this.”

Ms Newman recalls meeting a burns victim with more minor injuries in the waiting room of the Stoke Mandeville hospital who was due to see a psychologist.

“She was sitting there looking really sorry for herself. She looked at me laughing and smiling and said ‘I’m not like you.’ “I said put a bit of make-up on, do your hair and go and have a drink.

There are people in worse situations... there are children dying of cancer.”

But despite her determination to lead a normal life, Ms Newman admits she dreads the day Bray, who is 12 years her junior, is freed. She still sleeps with a knife by her bed.

“I always think when he comes out, if he hasn’t changed, he will try and finish me off. I think he will try and kill me. When he comes out I will live in fear. I want him dead.”


MARK Bray was jealous, possessive and paranoid about losing his girlfriend of two years.

The couple began dating in November 2006 after Ms Newman had ended a 17-year marriage.

She said Bray’s behaviour deteriorated after he lost his job as a scaffolder and his life descended into drink and drugs.

The couple had split up and Bray was on bail for assaulting her when the attack happened.

He also had a restraining order against him following a string of threatening incidents.

On December 23, 2008, Bray, then 29, downed 10 cans of lager and snorted two lines of cocaine before forcing his way into Ms Newman’s home.

Ms Newman said: “I was sitting on the sofa waiting for EastEnders or something and he opened the letterbox.

“I knew there was something different about him this time, I didn’t know what it was. I knew he was going to do something.

“He was drunk, on drugs, he hadn’t had any sleep or food.”

Earlier in the day, she had received a phone call from Bray who was laughing as he was pouring a liquid into a container — she later discovered it was petrol.

She said: “He started kicking the door and saying that I never loved him.

“I pressed the panic button and I ran to the back of the house to try and climb over the fence but he got inside and grabbed me by the hair and shut the door.

“He was holding me and he was tipping the petrol down my back and front. I could smell it and taste it in my mouth. I was screaming and crying about the kids.

“He said ‘You’ve had it’.”

Bray flicked a lighter and leaving her to burn alive.

Running into the bathroom, she splashed water on her face.

She said: “I didn’t feel any burning, but I could feel heat.

“I didn’t feel any pain at first, I didn’t know I was on fire until I looked in the mirror and I saw flames.

“I know it’s weird but my first thought was ‘This is embarrassing, I’m going to have to go into the street and ask for help.’ It was embarrassing that I had got myself into this situation.”

Neighbours rushed to put Ms Newman out with wet blankets as she rolled around on the tarmac to stifle the flames.

She said: “I remember telling people to tell my kids that I love them. I said, that’s it, he’s done it this time, he’s killed me.”