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Last Updated: Friday, 3 November 2006, 15:34 GMT
Man who killed wife spared jail
Monica Peters
Monica Peters suffered from acute spinal inflammation
An 80-year-old man who killed his wife at their Sussex home because he feared she would not cope if he died before her, has escaped a jail sentence.

Frank Peters, of Alma Terrace in St Leonards, killed Monica - his wife of 50 years - by smothering her with a pillow as she sat in an armchair.

Lewes Crown Court accepted a guilty plea of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

He was handed a nine-month jail term suspended for two years.

Peters smothered her some time between New Year's Eve 2005 and 4 January 2006.

Monica Peters suffered constant pain since developing myelitis - acute spinal inflammation.

It was your distorted perception as to what would be best for both of you that lead you to kill her
Judge Richard Brown
Prosecutor Simon Russell-Flint QC told the court: "He (Peters) believed her condition was getting steadily worse.

"He'd been told by a nurse it was the carers who died, wearing themselves out... He had made a decision to kill himself over the Christmas period and did not want to leave his wife behind."

On 2 January Mr Peters went to bed but left his wife sleeping downstairs. At midnight he went downstairs with a pillow.

Mr Russell-Flint said: "He placed the pillow across her face but she started to struggle and he had to lie on top of her."

Peters then made several failed attempts to take his own life, including taking five of his wife's morphine tablets.

Jeremy Gold QC, for the defence, said: "One can only imagine his desperation as he was in the house with the body of his dead wife trying to end his own life."

On 4 January Peters called police. Officers discovered Monica Peters lying under a blanket in the armchair.

Judge Richard Brown said: "I accept it was your distorted perception as to what would be best for both of you that lead you to kill her and attempt to take your own life."

The couple's family said: "We appreciate the compassionate sentence the judge imposed, and thank him for considering all the circumstances surrounding our mother's death."




SEE ALSO
Man, 80, denies killing his wife
24 Apr 06 |  Southern Counties
Man, 80, accused of wife's murder
06 Jan 06 |  Southern Counties

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