Page last updated at 15:22 GMT, Friday, 4 September 2009 16:22 UK

Son jailed after ward gun suicide

Ian James Button
Ian Button had a terminal illness

A man who gave his father a gun in hospital so that he could shoot himself has been jailed for three years.

Guy Button, 30, of Wycombe Road, Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, took the gun to a ward in Northampton General Hospital on 20 October.

Ian Button, 63, from Northampton, shot himself in the head after being told he had terminal lung disease.

Button, who admitted four offences, including transferring a firearm, was sentenced at Leicester Crown Court.

The judge told the music teacher he will have to serve at least half of the jail term.

At an earlier court appearance in Northampton the court heard Button had arrived on his father's ward with a bag containing the World War II gun and 19 rounds of ammunition.

This is the stuff of tragedy because his late father, in doing what he did, put his son in a position anybody could see was unbearable
Luke Blackburn

Mr Button, a car leasing manager, had become more depressed before deciding to take his own life, the judge was told.

His 63-year-old wife Christine was in a care home with Alzheimer's disease at the time.

He drew a curtain around his bed on the six-bay Benham Ward and shot himself through the right temple.

He was discovered, still breathing, by a ward sister but medical staff did not try to resuscitate him as he had asked for this not to be carried out.

Mr Button left a suicide note addressed to police, in which he claimed that he had taken the gun to the hospital.

The judge questioned the decision by prosecutors not to pursue a charge of assisting a suicide against Button which carries a maximum prison term of 14 years.

He said: "Isn't there abundant evidence that the defendant took the gun in to the hospital so his father could kill himself?"

Graham Reeds QC, prosecuting, replied: "With the available evidence there was insufficient evidence to make a conviction probable."

Sensitive music teacher

Judge Wide said he did find that there were "exceptional circumstances" in the case which allowed him to pass a sentence of less than five years.

He had received "numerous glowing testimonials" from the defendant's friends and relatives.

Button has lost his job as a teacher at the High Wycombe Music Centre in Buckinghamshire.

Luke Blackburn, defending, said: "Guy Button is a man of impeccable character. He is a sensitive man who takes his greatest pleasures from playing and teaching music.

"This is the stuff of tragedy because his late father, in doing what he did, put his son in a position anybody could see was unbearable."

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