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Woman set on fire by boyfriend describes ordeal at his sentencing

Ryan Osborne, 30, of Calverton, was sentenced to

Ryan Osborne, 30, of Calverton, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, for trying to kill his girlfriend by setting her on fire last May in Riverhead. Credit: Riverhead Town Police

A woman who was set on fire by her abusive boyfriend described Tuesday for a Suffolk judge how she woke up to feel kerosene splashing on her legs.

She described the May attack in Riverhead shortly before state Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen sentenced Ryan Osborne, 30, of Calverton to 10 years in prison for attempted murder and other charges. Osborne pleaded guilty last month.

The woman, whom Newsday is not naming because she is a domestic abuse victim, stood next to Assistant District Attorney Dana Brown while Brown read a statement the woman wrote about the attack. Despite an order of protection in her favor and a history of abuse, she had pitched a tent in Osborne’s backyard.

“I search for my role in your actions,” she wrote. “What did I do so that someone would want me dead, and in such a gruesome manner?”

She acknowledged staying with Osborne in a tumultuous relationship even after he had hit her and forced her to get stitches in her face. She had set up the tent after getting evicted from her apartment, she said.

That night, as she felt the liquid splash on her legs, she said she heard Osborne tell her, “Hey, this is kerosene. I’m going to light you on fire.”

And then he did.

The worst part, she said, was the whooshing noise it made, like a propane grill getting lighted. She said she dived out of the tent and rolled on the ground to put out the flames.

“I could have been trapped and burned alive, and you were running away,” she wrote. The fire was so intense that it spread to nearby trees.

Her recovery was excruciating, she said. She described having blisters all over her body popped and drained in the hospital. She couldn’t expose any burned skin to the sun, or new blisters would form. The skin on her legs was so damaged she could not bend her ankles, she said.

Brown called the woman standing next to her “courageous and strong” and recommended a sentence of 18 years.

Defense attorney Rachit Anand of the Legal Aid Society said his client is remorseful and will live with what he did the rest of his life.

“He is not an evil person,” Anand said. “Malice does not reside in his heart.”

Anand said Osborne was the victim of childhood physical and sexual abuse — factors that don’t excuse what he did to his girlfriend, but ought to be considered.

“I’m very sorry about what I’ve done,” Osborne said. “She did not deserve that. No one deserves that.”

Cohen told the victim she was courageous for coming to court and said he hoped the sentencing will allow her to move on and find peace.

He said he wrestled with whether to honor the plea deal, but concluded that Osborne’s background and commitment to bettering himself warranted this sentence.

“In the end, this is a just result,” Cohen said.

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