stephen archer
The Manchester home where a woman was set alight. Police have arrested Stephen Archer, inset, who has been charged with murder

A man has been charged with murder after the death of a woman who was allegedly doused with petrol and set alight. Stephen Archer, 50, also faces a charge of arson with intent to endanger life.

Police were called to a house in Newton Heath, Manchester, just before 9.45am on Monday 29 February to reports that a man had deliberately set fire to a woman. The 49-year-old victim, who has not yet been formally identified, was found with burns to 70% of her body. She died later in hospital.

A 19-year-old woman escaped uninjured from an upstairs window of the house, with help from neighbours, police said.

A manhunt was launched as police warned the suspect may be carrying several bottles of petrol. Archer was arrested after an off-duty officer spotted him getting off a train at Marple railway station on Friday (4 March). As the suspect was walking past a pub, several unmarked police cars pulled up before plain-clothed officers deployed a Taser, bringing Archer down in the snow.

Superintendent Arif Nawaz from GMP's North Manchester Division said: "Our thoughts remain with this woman's family as they come to terms with the worst possible news. Our specialist support officers are continuing to support them at this dreadful time. As a result of this tragic development, the investigation team have now launched a murder inquiry.

"At this stage I would also like to thank the public for their continued support throughout this difficult and protracted investigation. We always aim to bring an incident like this to a safe conclusion and I am pleased to say that, as a result of the quick actions of an off-duty officer plus the professionalism of our armed officers, we have now resolved what could have been an even more serious situation.

"However, the fact we have made an arrest does not mean the investigation ends here - far from it," he added.

A post mortem examination is expected to take place later to establish the victim's cause of death.

Archer will appear at Manchester Magistrates' Court on Monday (7 March).

Anyone with information is asked to call the investigation team directly on 0161 856 3891, 999, or the independent charity, Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.