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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 October 2006, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
Assisted suicide man walks free
David and Gillian March
David March admitted the assisted suicide at an earlier hearing
A man who helped his seriously ill wife kill herself has been spared prison.

David March, 58, from Caterham, Surrey, admitted aiding and abetting the suicide of his 59-year-old wife Gillian, who had multiple sclerosis.

Mrs March, who was diagnosed in 1984, said she wanted to die before her husband was too old to find love again.

On her third suicide attempt, Mr March tied up a plastic bag she had put over her head. He was given a nine-month jail sentence, suspended for 12 months.

The couple had been married since 1979, but Mr March gave up a job in advertising to care for his wife after her illness led to her being confined to a wheelchair.

He took up work as a landscape gardener which allowed him to return to their home, in Harestone Valley Road, to do cooking and cleaning.

You displayed a selfless devotion to your wife
Judge Brian Barker

On 19 September last year, he found his wife with a bag over head when he went back to make her lunch.

Mr March re-tied the string she had put around the plastic bag's handles, held her hand for half an hour until she died and then called the emergency services.

He was charged with murder but his guilty plea to the lesser offence was accepted when a pathologist said it was not certain if Mrs March would have survived had her husband not tightened the string.

She had tried to kill herself in June 2004 and again in June 2005, but Mr March phoned an ambulance the first time and his wife regained consciousness on the second occasion.

David March
I just want to be left alone to get on with my life
David March

She spoke of a desire to end her life many years before in a diary she kept.

In 1992 Mrs March wrote: "It is the only way I can cope, having an escape route if things get too bad."

As well as his suspended sentence, Mr March was told to carry out 50 hours' unpaid work at the Sutton and Croydon MS Therapy Centre, where he is already the chairman.

Judge Brian Barker, sitting at the Old Bailey, said: "You were a husband who not only had a deep love for his wife but who displayed a selfless devotion to her."

Speaking outside court, Mr March said: "I just want to be left alone to get on with my life.

"Obviously it's been difficult but I really don't want to comment about it at the moment."


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Gillian March made it clear she wanted to be left to die



SEE ALSO
Gardener admits helping wife die
14 Sep 06 |  Southern Counties
Gardener in court over wife death
21 Sep 05 |  Southern Counties

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