Police have released a desperately sad recording of a murder victim's statement describing the night he was set on fire by a gang.

Robert Beattie, a much-loved brother and uncle, was able to tell police how he was set on fire before he eventually succumbed to his injuries two weeks later.

Detectives and the victim's family decided to release the haunting recording on Friday, reports the Liverpool Echo.

In the powerful audio clip Mr Beattie describes how he tried to put out the flames by "rolling about in the rain" to "stop the burns."

He was attacked after a gang of five from Liverpool drove to his home town of Skelmersdale to reassert influence and control over the town's drug trade.

Robert Beattie
Robert Beattie was able to give a statement to police before he died

Shortly after midnight on September 26, 2019, Connah Jenkinson and his mob squirted Mr Beattie with petrol before setting him on fire.

Jenkinson, 26, was joined by John O'Brien from Walton and Joseph McEwan from Fazakerley, while two other members of the gang are still on the run.

Yesterday a sound clip of Mr Beattie giving a statement to police was released, revealing his shaking and wavering voice as he battled his terrible injuries.

CCTV presented by Lancashire Constabulary

He told them: "There’s a knock on the door. I open the door.

"About five lads come in squirting err… petrol or whatever it was … over me and they lit a match.

"And started squirting stuff all over me flat.

Robert Beattie's door

"And then… they ran off and I went out and rolled in the rain to try and stop the burns."

Mr Beattie was heavily sedated in hospital, but after two weeks sadly died of his injuries.

On Friday at Preston Crown Court, Jenkinson was jailed for life after being found guilty of murder and arson, and was ordered to serve a minimum of 30 years before the Parole Board can consider his release.

The damage to Robert Beattie's home

His accomplices - O'Brien and McEwan - were handed 15 and 13 years respectively for manslaughter and arson endangering life.

Police have also released the first photographs of the damage caused to Mr Beattie's home, showing the front room completely wrecked by fire and his front door very badly burnt and charred by the flames.

DCI Pauline Stables of Lancashire Police said: “Robert Beattie was a vulnerable man who was the victim of a brutal, horrendous and violent attack which caused extensive and widespread burns.

Connah Jenkinson

"His injuries were not survivable and resulted, tragically, in his death two weeks later.

"It is hard to think of a more horrific way to die and my thoughts today are foremost with his loved ones.

“The men [sic: only one was convicted of murder] convicted of this brutal murder travelled to Skelmersdale to carry out these offences with a complete disregard for human life and in an effort to intimidate and instil fear in our local vulnerable communities and establish a foothold dealing drugs.

John O’Brien

“This terrible incident is testament to the fear, misery and devastation travelling drug dealing gangs or “County lines” can cause to the local community.

"Two of the group responsible for the attack have yet to be identified and I would urge anyone with information to report it to Lancashire Police."

The killing was a result of feuding gangs trying to instil fear and command their dominance in the drugs supply trade in Skelmersdale.

Joseph McEwan

Mr Beattie had become a victim in County line drug dealing, buying and dealing on behalf of a group known as the "Nathan Line."

This angered the leaders of the rival Merseyside-based "Ronnie and Reggie" line and led to them going to Skelmersdale and first firebombing a home on Willow Hey at 11pm before heading to Mr Beattie's.

Anyone with information they think might be useful to police is asked to please get in touch via the Major Incident Public Portal at https://mipp.police.uk/operation/0401020119SO4-PO1 quoting log number 0277 of the date January 22nd.