Page last updated at 12:42 GMT, Monday, 30 June 2008 13:42 UK

Suicide pact pensioner walks free

A man who tried to carry out a suicide pact with his wife after she was taken into care with dementia has been spared jail by a judge at the Old Bailey.

Gilbert Brown, 83, and wife Doris, 80, of west London, survived despite taking an overdose of pills and attaching an exhaust into their car to gas them.

Brown admitted to trying to assist his wife's suicide in a mercy killing bid.

The judge said it was not a case which required a prison sentence and placed him under a two-year supervision order.

'Relieve suffering'

Brown had been looking after his wife, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and dementia, for more than 30 years.

Brown, from Uxbridge, became distraught when his wife of 60 years was found to be suffering from dementia and social services took her away to be treated by professionals.

The court heard that a week after Mrs Brown returned home he took her for a drive.

I thought it was best for us to go together
Gilbert Brown

An officer found a suicide note in their home the next day but he returned soon after with his drugged wife. He said they had been taking tablets all night.

The pair had taken 47 pills - painkillers and sleeping tablets - and tried to gas themselves to death, but he woke up hours later to find their suicide bid had failed.

David Harounoff, for prosecution, said Brown told police "I felt I failed Doris. I thought it was best for us to go together."

Judge Jeremy Roberts said: "This was a genuine attempt by Mr Brown to carry out what is sometimes referred to as a mercy killing of his wife and killing himself so they could die together.

"It was, in Mr Brown's words, an act to relieve her suffering. This is not a case requiring a prison sentence."

The judge placed Brown, a retired accounts assistant, under a supervision order for two years and ordered that he should only have supervised visits with his wife.

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