Maplebeck farm death: Husband detained in secure hospital

Peter Thurgarland was obsessed his farmhouse would flood

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A farmer who strangled his wife will receive treatment in a psychiatric unit until he is well enough to stand trial.

Peter Thurgarland, 72, who was ruled unfit to stand trial, had admitted killing his wife Julia at their farm in Maplebeck, Nottinghamshire.

The jury at Nottingham Crown Court heard he had been suffering from a "severe mental disturbance" and became "fixated" with flooding.

They unanimously decided he was responsible for the death of his wife.

During the two-day hearing the court was told Mr Thurgarland had dug ditches, built a "fortress" of sandbags and stacked furniture after becoming obsessed with flooding.

'Health deteriorated'

Prosecutor Michael Auty QC said the couple's farm had been flooded in 2007, forcing them to live in a caravan for 18 months.

In the months leading up to the death of 70-year-old Julia, Mr Thurgarland's family said they had grown concerned about his mental state.

He was due to attend a psychiatric assessment on the day of his wife's death, after attempting to smother her with a pillow two weeks earlier.

Farm in Maplebeck Post-mortem tests showed Julia Thurgarland died from strangulation at the couple's farmhouse.

On 28 December the couple's daughter Jayne O'Connell found her mother on the floor of the living room and her father slumped unconscious after attempting to take his own life.

Paramedics pronounced Mrs Thurgarland dead at the scene. A post-mortem examination found she had died from strangulation.

During police interviews read in court Mr Thurgarland confessed to killing his wife with a piece of cord.

"We were arguing over something. I flipped and strangled her. I don't know what came over me," he said.

"I killed her. I don't know why I did it."

Judge Gregory Dickinson said Mr Thurgarland would now stay in the secure hospital until his health improved. He would then be tried normally.

Det Ch Insp Tony Heydon who led the investigation, said: "The death of Julia Thurgarland at the hands of her husband, Peter, was a tragic family event.

"Nobody could have predicted this sad event but some time after November last year his mental health deteriorated and he took his wife's life and attempted to take his own."

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