[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 November 2005, 14:58 GMT
Mother who killed son avoids jail
Wendolyn Markcrow
Wendolyn Markcrow tried to commit suicide after killing her son
A depressed mother who killed her Down's Syndrome son who she had looked after for 36 years has been given a "merciful" suspended jail sentence.

Wendolyn Markcrow, 67, smothered her son Patrick, 36, with a plastic bag while he was tranquilised because of the pressure of caring for him.

Oxford Crown Court heard she then attempted suicide using a kitchen knife at their home in Long Crendon, Bucks.

The two-year suspended sentence means she will not have to go to prison.

Markcrow denied murdering Patrick but admitted his manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

At a hearing in September the court heard that in the years leading up to the death of her son, Markcrow and her GP had repeatedly pleaded with the local authorities for assistance with his care.

You will be punished as long as you live by the knowledge of what you have done and what you have lost
Mr Justice Gross

As well as Down's Syndrome he had developed autistic traits which led him to self-harm to the extent that he was blinded in one eye by hitting himself.

After her arrest Markcrow told police she had "snapped" following years of sleepless nights caring for her son.

"I felt sad, desperate, terrified, and ashamed," she told officers.

Two psychiatrists agreed she had been suffering from severe depression, which had gone untreated for many years.

Sentencing Markcrow, Mr Justice Gross said: "Ordinarily, nothing less than an immediate custodial sentence would be appropriate."

The unbearable pressure Markcrow had been under, as Patrick's sole carer for more than 30 years, made his "merciful sentence" the right one to impose, the judge said.

'Independent mother'

"You will be punished as long as you live by the knowledge of what you have done and what you have lost," he added.

The judge said Markcrow had made a number of attempts to gain assistance with Patrick's care but, for whatever reason, care had not been forthcoming.

Speaking outside court, Trevor Boyd defended the record of Markcrow's local authority, Buckinghamshire County Council.

He said: "Mrs Markcrow was a very independent and loving mother and I believe we offered everything we could to help her.

"It is regrettable that Markcrow did not accept all the care that was there."

Markcrow declined to comment as she left court on Wednesday.

Watch Wendolyn Markcrow arrive at court

Mother admits killing Down's son
23 Sep 05 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Mother in court over son's death
07 Apr 05 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Down's son's death murder charge
30 Mar 05 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific