A Perth father who set his three-year-old daughter on fire told a neighbour he did it because she was “too beautiful”.

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VIDEO Father admits setting daughter alight as ‘she was too beautiful’. Source: Seven News father admits setting daughter alight as ‘she was too beautiful’

Drug user Edward John Herbert admits he poured petrol over the little girl’s head and doused her autistic seven-year-old sister but has pleaded not guilty to the charges on grounds of insanity.

In court on Monday, a policewoman fought back tears as she described the moment she saw the three-year-old girl in her cot with "her whole head on fire".

The little girl before she was burnt. Picture: 7 News
Edward John Herbert is claiming insanity as a defence. Picture: 7 News

Constable Stephanie Bochorsky was off-duty at the time and watching television at her home in Doubleview when she heard an altercation between her neighbours Herbert and his partner.

The constable told the court that she went out to see if the woman was OK, but she replied: "No, he's setting the kids on fire!"

Const Bochorsky ran into the house and smelt petrol.

Police at the family's Doubleview home. Picture: 7 News

The officer covered the girl in a blanket to put out the flames and saw Herbert pouring petrol over the older child in her bed.

Const Bochorsky told Herbert to get away from the children, but he did not respond and remained there, which she described as weird.

"My main concern was to get the flames extinguished," she said.

The little girl's 'whole head was on fire'. Picture: 7 News

The policewoman grabbed the young girl and while carrying her, dragged the older girl out of the bed and bolted out of the house during the August 2015 incident.

The little girl, who suffered burns to 13 per cent of her body, has been left permanently scarred by the attack.

Prosecutor Amanda Forrester told the court Herbert was a cannabis user and drinker, who was behaving strangely leading up to the incident, with his moods changing from happiness to anger.

Constable Stephanie Bochorsky (in uniform) testified at the hearing. Picture: 7 News

The 44-year-old’s partner said in her court statement that before the attack he seemed to be talking to himself and she was scared.

"I was trying to keep him calm as I was in fear for my life," she said.

She said at one point that night he told her: "The werewolf is coming at 12 o'clock."

Police at the family home. Picture: 7 News

Later, he said: "That's it bitch, I'm going to kill you."

He then told her he would burn the children instead.

The woman said when she saw her burnt daughter she could "smell burning flesh" and the girl appeared to be in shock, screaming and crying.

A neighbour said in his statement that when he rushed into the house with a fire extinguisher, after the girls had been rescued, he found Herbert drinking beer in the kitchen.

An off-duty policewoman pulled the two girls from the home. Picture: 7 News

When he confronted Herbert, he replied: "They're my kids to do whatever the f*** I want."

He then lunged at the neighbour with a knife, but the man hit him on the head with the fire extinguisher.

Seven months after the alleged attack, Herbert wrote to his de facto and told her he couldn’t remember what happened.

He said he loved his children more than life itself and that he would pray for his injured daughter.

The trial continues.

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