Wife gave husband 'mercy killing overdose', court told
Written by The Newsroom on September 3, 2019
An 80-year-old woman murdered her terminally ill husband in a “mercy killing”, a court has heard.
Mavis Eccleston gave a “potentially lethal” dose of prescription medication to husband Dennis, 81, jurors at Stafford Crown Court were told.
She also wrote a note saying they both wished to end their lives and held his hand as he died, after being given an antidote to treat her own overdose.
Mrs Eccleston denies charges of murder and manslaughter.
The couple were found by family members at their bungalow in Huntington, near Cannock, Staffordshire, on 19 February 2018 – after both had ingested overdoses.
They were rushed to Stafford Hospital by paramedics, who were made aware of an apparent suicide note.
Mr Eccleston had made a decision to receive no further treatment for his cancer, except for medication for pain management, and did not wish to be resuscitated by medical staff, jurors heard.
He died the following day.
Opening the prosecution, Tony Badenoch QC said the medication was given to Mr Eccleston “by his wife of almost 60 years”.
He said she gave an account voluntarily to two mental health nurses the day after her husband’s death and said he “wasn’t aware that she was giving him a potentially lethal dose”.
Describing the case as tragic for all concerned, Mr Badenoch added: “The fact that it was a ‘mercy killing’ is contrary to the law in this country and doesn’t afford to her a defence to her actions.”
He said before Mr Eccleston’s death, the hospital provided the opportunity for the couple to be in adjoining beds and “they held hands as Dennis passed away”.
Jurors heard a note found after Mr Eccleston’s death, written by his wife, referred to neighbourhood “tensions” and an apparent desire to end their own lives.
Mr Badenoch told the court a pathologist believed Mr Eccleston’s disease meant he could have died suddenly but he would not have died when he did if he had not received the overdose.
Jurors were told the defence will argue it cannot be proved that an overdose caused Mr Eccleston’s death, and that if it was proved, a suicide pact would reduce the offence of murder to one of manslaughter.
The trial continues.
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Updates from the Cannock Chase Radio News Desk via BBC Stoke and Staffordshire