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Photos: Boy raped,tied to a tree and set alight names attacker on his death bed 13 yrs later

On his 8th birthday Robbie Middleton was tied to a tree, had gasoline thrown over him and then he was set on fire.

Incredibly despite being in excruciating pain, he managed to stagger home in a ball of flames and collapse in the street.Robbie’s horrified mum found her son blistered beyond recognition and close to death .

It was a crime that sent shockwaves through the community of Splendora, Texas and just the start of a difficult journey for young Robbie.

He survived the attack but by 20, he’d spent most of his life in hospital and was dying of skin cancer caused by the third degree burns.
Days before his death, Robbie recorded a harrowing video that not only named his attacker, but revealed the shocking reason why he was set alight that life-changing day.

Robbie had been raped in the same woods, by the very same monster who went on to set him on fire.
Back in 1998, Robert ‘Robbie’ Middleton was the outgoing youngest of three children living with is parents Colleen and Bobby.
On June 28, he celebrated his eighth birthday and late afternoon, he walked through the woods behind his home to meet a friend for a sleepover.Shortly afterwards, Robbie emerged from the trees in flames.He screamed in agony as his flesh melted in the inferno .
At the hospital, Robbie’s family were told he wouldn’t survive. He’d been tied to a tree, doused in gasoline and set on fire.

His burns covered 99 per cent of his body and left only the soles of his feet untouched. His eyelids were gone and his skin scorched.
But Robbie pulled through with the help of more than 150 operations and countless skin grafts.
When he was stronger, Robbie named his attacker as Don Collins – a 13-year-old neighbour.
Collins was taken into juvenile custody but with no motive, evidence and no witnesses except the word of a poorly eight year old, he was released.
Meanwhile Robbie was slowly nursed back to health by medical staff and his devoted family.Even though he was severely disfigured, and was haunted by nightmares.

While Robbie surpassed every expectation, Don Collins embarked on a life of crime.By 16, he was convicted of sexually assaulting an eight year old boy and served four years. Once released, he was in and out of prison.
Robbie never wavered on who had set him alight and his family filed a wrongful death suit against Collins.For Robbie, there was another cruel blow.
He was diagnosed with skin cancer attributed to the skin grafts he’d endured and found himself dying at just 20.
Courageously, he decided it was time the truth came out to protect others.From his hospital bed, he gave a videotaped deposition and revealed exactly what he knew about the 1998.

Robbie said that weeks before being set on fire, Don Collins had overpowered him in the very same woods and had raped him.Suddenly a motive was all too clear. Collins had been trying to silence Robbie.
In April 2011, 17 days after his deathbed confession, Robbie died just short of his 21 birthday.
His death was ruled a homicide because the cancer was a consequence of his original injuries.
For his family, it was time for justice.
Collins was charged with felony murder.It was agreed that he’d be tried as an adult despite being 13 at the time of the crime. As part of the deal, he’d avoid the death penalty and face a maximum of 40 years.
As they waited for trial, Robbie’s parents were awarded $150billion in civil lawsuit against Collins – the biggest in US history.
The award was symbolic and they were unlikely to see the money - however it was a step in the right direction for the murder charges.
The trial started at a Gaveston County court early this year. Collins, now 29, pleaded not guilty.

Jury members wept at pictures of his injuries. Doctors said his survival was miraculous as the flames had eaten through his fat down to the muscle.
While Collins looked distracted and emotionless, his defense team pointed out there were no witnesses or evidence to back up the claims but Robbie’s voice from beyond the grave was compelling and in February, Collins was convicted of murder.
He showed no reaction when he was sentenced to the maximum 40 years

Culled from Daily Mirror


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