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The BBC's Carol Bundock
"Leslie Parsons watched the woman he loved deteriorate"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 19 September, 2000, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK
'Tragic' wife killer released

Leslie and Dorothy Parsons had been married 62 years
An 83-year-old man who killed his wife in a fit of despair over their declining health has escaped a jail sentence.

Leslie Parsons shot his 88-year-old wife Dorothy twice through the head with a .22 calibre revolver and then turned the gun on himself. The couple had been married for 62 years.

Though he shot himself through the head three times, he survived to face the consequences of his actions.

Parsons killed his wife in a fit of despair
Having accepted his plea of guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, Judge Brian Watling, QC, said Parson's case "must be one of the most tragic that a court has ever had to consider".

The jury at Chelmsford Crown Court was told Parsons, from Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex, shot his wife because he could no longer cope with her Alzheimer's and the realisation that he might have to go into residential care because of his own advancing years.

Suicide statement

His actions on 7 January this year were prompted by the couple's visit to a residential care home which led to fears that they would soon lose their independence.

In a suicide statement read out in court, Parsons said: "I have known her since 1933. I loved her dearly. She has dementia and is getting worse.

"We have to leave here shortly and I do not fancy that much. I put two bullets into her head no trouble.

"I got to bed and put two bullets in my head. I am sorry.

One of the most tragic cases that a court has ever had to consider

Judge Brian Watling

"I am happy in my own mind that my wife is happier now."

The shooting took place at his daughter Brenda Thompson's home when she and her husband were out for the night at a bowling alley.

Mrs Thompson had given up work as a district nurse to look after her ageing parents.

Judge Watling accepted Parson's explanation for his action.

He said: "Here you are at the age of 83, an upright man of impeccable character. You knew her for 67 years and were married for 62 years. You loved her dearly and were devoted to her.

"Your declining health meant you could not, either of you, any longer cope and so the course you saw as the only possible way out."

Judge Watling ordered Mr Parsons to be put on probation for three years and ordered him to reside as directed by his supervising officer in a bail hostel until suitable accommodation was found.

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