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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 April, 2005, 07:26 GMT 08:26 UK
Suicide man's family blast widow
Sheila Wills
Sheila Wills did not hear of her brother's death for six months
A widow who was cleared of manslaughter after failing to call for help after her husband took a fatal overdose has been criticised by the man's sister.

Paul Anderson, 43, from North Yorkshire suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome and was in constant pain before he overdosed on morphine in July 2003.

But Jill Anderson's failure to dial 999 for almost 18 hours was "morally unforgivable", Sheila Wills said.

"The one person to whom he entrusted his care let him down," she added.

She did what she thought was right and proper and more importantly what she believed her husband would have wished
John Mewies, defence solicitor

Leeds Crown Court heard that Mr Anderson was weak and vulnerable when he took the morphine at home in Galphay, near Ripon.

Prosecutors claimed Mrs Anderson could have prevented his death but her defence successfully argued she was not under a legal duty of care.

On Wednesday, the jury found his widow not guilty of manslaughter.

In a statement, Mrs Wills said her brother's death had been unnecessary.

Jill Anderson
Jill Anderson was said be a "devoted and long suffering" wife

"We were not aware that Paul had died, since Jill chose to keep the news from us. We did not learn of his death and of her subsequent arrest until January 2004, six months after the event.

"By any standards of human behaviour, we believe that Jill's actions in failing to summon medical assistance were morally unforgivable, and this was further compounded by her cruel decision to withhold the news of his death from his family."

Mr Anderson's family was "naturally disappointed" with the verdict, Mrs Wills added, but they felt that it was essential the issues surrounding the case were debated in a public court.

Mrs Anderson's solicitor John Mewies said his client's actions had been "totally vindicated" by the court.

"She did what she thought was right and proper and more importantly what she believed her husband would have wished," he added.

The background to the case explained

Overdose trial widow not guilty
27 Apr 05 |  North Yorkshire
Jurors urged not to convict widow
26 Apr 05 |  North Yorkshire
Widow says husband killed himself
25 Apr 05 |  North Yorkshire
Husband was 'past help' says wife
22 Apr 05 |  North Yorkshire
Widow's husband 'suffered enough'
21 Apr 05 |  North Yorkshire

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