Life sentence for Thirsk woman who smothered friend in care home
A woman who smothered an elderly man at a care home has been jailed for life.
Heather Davidson, 54, of Thirsk in North Yorkshire, admitted the murder of her 81-year-old friend David Paterson.
She had phoned a cancer charity shortly before using a pillow to kill Mr Paterson in his room at the privately-run Sowerby House care home in Thirsk.
Davidson, who has a previous conviction for attempting to smother a neighbour's dog, was told she would serve a minimum of nine years.
She had claimed the murder on 11 February was a "mercy killing", however, sentencing her at Teesside Crown Court, Judge Simon Bourne-Arton said she had denied Mr Paterson a "private ending".
"You were only saving him a few hours of suffering," the judge said.
"In so doing, you deprived him of what he wanted most, a natural death."
The court was told Davidson had met Mr Paterson through a group for people with mental health issues. She attended the group where Mr Paterson was a volunteer.
They also attended church together and she visited him frequently after he moved into the care home.
The court heard two phone calls had been made by Davidson to the cancer charity Macmillan before Mr Paterson's death.
During the first she complained about his treatment.
In the final call, made from Mr Paterson's room on the day she killed him, she told the operator her friend was unable to eat or drink.
Davidson told the charity: "It might be better if I could put a pillow over his head. Would I be a murderer if I did that?"
The charity's operator told her she would and after a conversation with a supervisor the police were alerted.
The call could not be traced before Davidson smothered her victim about two and a half hours later.
Prosecuting, Jonathan Sharp said Mr Paterson had a firm religious belief and strongly objected to euthanasia.
"He had said it will be God's decision, and only God's, when it was his time to meet his maker."
In a statement, Mr Davidson's family described him as a devout Christian and said they were shocked someone he considered a friend would have acted in this way.
"She should have known he would have wanted it to be God's will when he died and allowed him to do so in privacy and with dignity," the statement said.
David Aubrey QC, mitigating, said Davidson was genuinely remorseful about her actions.
"She regrets bitterly and is ashamed for what she has put this man through," he said.