Boy sets girl on fire after being spurned: China

Boy sets girl on fire after being spurned: China

HEFEI - A pretty teenager suffered horrific burns to her face and body when she was splashed with lighter fluid after she had spurned the advances of a classmate.

According to reports, when Tao Rukun, the child of government officials, was unsuccessful in his pursuit of 17-year-old Zhou Yan, he forced himself into her home and poured lighter fluid on her head, shouting "die!".

Zhou Yan incurred second and third-degree burns to 30 per cent of her body, particularly around her head, neck and chest, following the alleged attack by 17-year-old Tao Rukun in the bedroom of her home last September.

Zhou required intensive care in hospital for a week before she was out of danger, but after months of treatment, she has had to leave hospital prematurely and is now recovering at home - in the bedroom where the attack took place.

Zhou Yan is now receiving treatment for her burns on Sunday in her bedroom, where the attack took place.

This is due to a dispute between her family and Tao's over payment of medical expenses.

According to Zhou Yan's mother Li Cong, Tao started asking Zhou to be his girlfriend a few years ago.

Li then transferred her daughter to another junior middle school to get away from Tao, but to no avail.

According to Li, the family contacted Tao's family several times before the accident, asking them to keep an eye on their son and to stop him from harassing their daughter.

"I even kneeled to Tao Rukun to beg him leave my daughter alone, but nothing worked,” the anguished mother said.

According to Zhou, Tao resorted to using threats in an attempt to get her to be his girlfriend. She reportedly told him she wanted to concentrate on her studies.

Tao then asked her to be his girlfriend after three years, but warned her that if she did not date him after that time, she would be responsible for anything that might happen after that.

In response to that, she told him there was no reason why she must date him after three years. After receiving her reply, Tao attempted to kill her by setting her on fire.

Li added that Tao's parents were local government officials. Tao's father works for Hefei urban planning bureau and his mother is with Hefei Audit Bureau.

"Tao's parents were nice to us and frequently visited my daughter in hospital at first. But all that changed when Xu Congxiao, Tao's mother, asked me to sign the paperwork for her son's bail appeal while he awaited trial," Li Cong said in an interview with local television.

"My sister refused to sign the paper as it did not represent what happened," said Zhou's aunt Li Yun, who was the only witness to the scene.

"Fire engulfed Zhou, especially her head, and Tao was in shock," Li said.

"He neither tried to help nor dialed 120 and he didn't voluntarily stay in our company that night when Zhou Yan got burnt. We asked him to stay," she said.

Zhou’s aunt, on hearing Zhou’s screams, came rushing over to put the fire out with a comforter before she called the ambulance and the police.

Reports say Tao was unperturbed and standing aside throughout the ordeal.

However, Tao’s parents tried to coerce Zhou’s family to sign a letter affirming that Tao was actively involved in the rescue and turned himself in to the police. They also tried to settle it behind closed doors.

After help with their son's bail request was refused by Li Cong, Tao's parents refused to pay any further medical bills. Unable to afford further medical costs, Zhou Yan was then transferred to her home in December when her family fell into arrears of more than 100,000 yuan (S$19,940) in medical expenses, said local media.

"Tao's parents paid a total of 338,000 yuan and left the rest uncovered," said Li Yun. "But that was not what they promised. They said they'd even go to South Korea to get Zhou cosmetic surgery."

Zhou was not out of danger until after a 7-day stay in intensive care.

Li Yun was in tears when she recalled her niece's condition just after the horrific attack.

"She was in an extremely unstable situation when she first woke up. She refused to eat, cried every day and kept biting her tongue in agony because she couldn't move.

In a video, Zhou Yan’s mother tearfully told the media what her dauther said to her: “Mommy, look how pretty I was. I asked you to take some art/glamor photos of me, but you didn’t want to spend the money, and now I’ll never be able to take such photos anymore.”

"I can't forget her face when she heard she had to go back to her own bedroom," Li Yun said, adding she had redecorated and furnished Zhou's bedroom. "Her old headboard was burned black."

Both Zhou's parents worked for Unilever. "But Li Cong quit her job after her girl was burned and their lives depend on the 1,500 yuan monthly salary of the father," said a neighbour, who did not wish to be named.

But the family's plight received wide media and public attention last week, when Li Cong posted their story and "before and after" pictures of her daughter on Sina Weibo.

Li Zhixian, a lawyer assigned to Zhou Yan after Li Cong applied for legal aid, said Tao Rukun may face a jail sentence of at least 10 years or even the death penalty for the crime of intentional injury.

"However, a lesser sentence is also possible as Tao is under 18 years old," said Li, a lawyer with King A&P Law.

"In the meantime, Zhou's mother wants Tao's family to cover her daughter's medical expenses in full, which is unlikely to happen, going by their response at the moment," she said.

Tao Rukun was arrested by Hefei police on Sept 18, the day after the attack, and is currently being held at the First Detention Center in Hefei. His father Tao Wen posted an apology letter on weibo on Saturday, saying he would do everything possible to help Zhou Yan and would accept the legal judgment on his son.

How to treat burns

First try your best to identify the type of burn that has to be treated.

First-degree ones are superficial burns where only the outer layer of skin is burned. The skin is usually red and there will be some swelling. They heal quickly without scarring but can be quite painful.

Sunburns are examples of these.

Mayoclinic.com recommends treating a first-degree burn as minor unless it involves substantial portions of the hands, feet, face, groin or buttocks, or a major joint, which requires emergency medical attention.

Second-degree burns are burns where the first layer is burned through and the second layer is also affected. The skin will be intensely reddened with blisters.

Deep second degree burns generally take longer than three weeks to heal and should be evaluated by a surgeon. Doctors' supervision will help reduce the risk of scarring.

Third degree burns involve all layers of the skin and cause permanent tissue damage. Fat, muscle and bone may be affected. Areas may be charred black or appear dry and white.

Some practices to avoid when dealing with burns:

>> Don't use ice. Putting ice directly on a burn can cause a burn victim's body to become too cold and cause further damage to the wound.
>> Don't apply butter to the burn. This could cause infection.
>> Don't break blisters. Broken blisters are more vulnerable to infection.

For first degree burns and second-degree ones limited to an area no larger than 7.6 centimeters in diameter try these steps:

>> Cool the burn. If possible, hold the burned area under cool running water or soak it in cool water for about ten to 15 minutes. Cooling the burn reduces swelling. Do NOT put ice on the burn.
>> Apply an antibiotic cream to help treat the burn and control the pain. Apply the cream as soon as the burn has finished soaking in cold water.
>> Cover the burn with a dry, sterile gauze bandage. Secure it with tape, and replace the dressing with a clean one every day.
>> Take a pain killer to help with the pain. It will also help treat the symptoms of a second degree burn.
>> Wash the burn every day ensuring it remains clean. Reapply antibiotic cream daily.

For first degree burns and second-degree ones limited to an area no larger than 7.6 centimeters in diameter try these steps:

>> Cool the burn. If possible, hold the burned area under cool running water or soak it in cool water for about ten to 15 minutes. Cooling the burn reduces swelling. Do NOT put ice on the burn.
>> Apply an antibiotic cream to help treat the burn and control the pain. Apply the cream as soon as the burn has finished soaking in cold water.
>> Cover the burn with a dry, sterile gauze bandage. Secure it with tape, and replace the dressing with a clean one every day.
>> Take a pain killer to help with the pain. It will also help treat the symptoms of a second degree burn.
>> Wash the burn every day ensuring it remains clean. Reapply antibiotic cream daily.
>> Keep an eye out for infection. Symptoms include increased pain, redness, swelling or pus. Avoid breaking the blisters.
>> If infection develops, seek medical help.
>> Avoid re-injuring or tanning if the burns are less than a year old. Use sun block on the affected area for about a year.
>> Get a tetanus shot if necessary. Keep an eye out for infection. Symptoms include increased pain, redness, swelling or pus. Avoid breaking the blisters.
>> If infection develops, seek medical help.
>> Avoid re-injuring or tanning if the burns are less than a year old. Use sun block on the affected area for about a year.
>> Get a tetanus shot if necessary.

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