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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 April, 2005, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
Church elder smothered sick wife
Cedar Street in Grangemouth
Edge had been caring for his wife at their home in Grangemouth
A 80-year-old church elder who smothered his wife of more than 50 years as he struggled to cope with her dementia has been admonished.

The High Court in Glasgow heard that Kenneth Edge, from Grangemouth near Falkirk, was "severely depressed" and could not come to court.

Judge Lady Smith took the unusual step of dealing with Edge in his absence.

Edge earlier admitted culpable homicide by smothering his wife Winifred, 85, with a pillow in March 2003.

His doctor took the view it would be "severely detrimental" for him to come to court.

Lady Smith said: "In the circumstances I am prepared to admonish him in his absence. There seems no point in continuing this case to try to get him to court."

'Loving marriage'

The judge heard that Mrs Edge, a former Sunday school teacher, had been married to her husband for 55 years.

They had no children but shared a variety of interests during a "long and loving marriage".

When his wife became ill with senile dementia Edge began to suffer blackouts from the pressure of taking care of her at their house on Grangemouth's Cedar Street.

The court heard that Mrs Edge had not been sleeping and her husband was trying to remain alert at night to help her.

On the night she died, Mrs Edge woke and began waving and thrashing her arms around.

Confessed to police

Her husband put a pillow over her face and Mrs Edge offered little or no resistance.

When he realised what he had done Edge phoned the police and confessed.

At a hearing 18 months ago, Lady Smith told Mr Edge: "It is perfectly plain that you have punished, and will continue to punish, yourself because you have removed from your life your lifetime partner whom you have loved and cared for.

"You did so in circumstances precipitated by the enormous stresses and strains you had been put under as you tried to care for a woman who ceased to be the woman you married, and whom you had known and loved for more than 50 years."

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