Daughter guilty of murdering MS father in Dagenham home

Claire DarbyshireImage source, Met Police
Image caption,
Claire Darbyshire, who was born male but has lived her life as a female, denied murder

A carer who said she suffocated her father with a plastic bag because of his "intolerable" multiple sclerosis has been found guilty of murder.

Claire Darbyshire, 36, said she killed her father Brian, 67, at their home in Wykeham Green, Dagenham, on 2 September 2015 as part of a failed suicide pact.

She was found the next evening wandering around clifftops in Kent, asking for help.

The Old Bailey jury unanimously found her guilty. She had denied murder.


Mr Darbyshire, a father of two, had developed MS in 1995 and lost his wife Lynn in 2008.

His daughter had become his full-time carer when he became bed-ridden in 2014.

Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC said Ms Darbyshire had come to an "agreement" with her father that they would kill themselves; because of his condition and because "she would have nothing to live for once her father had gone".

However, jurors heard that Mr Darbyshire had never expressed suicidal thoughts or complained about being in pain to nurses who visited him.

Mr Rees said a woman who worked in a jewellery shop where Ms Darbyshire volunteered had also noticed she was "more and more stressed" and complained about having to look after her father.

After killing him she took a train to Dover. She was found the next day on the White Cliffs by a National Trust worker.

Mr Darbyshire's body was discovered by police on 10 September, eight days after the killing, after a neighbour raised the alarm.

Police found him in bed dressed in a suit, with a teddy bear and several notes written by his daughter which praised him as a "wonderful" man and said: "He asked me to help him end it".

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Ms Darbyshire was found wandering along the White Cliffs by a National Trust worker

In a statement to police, Ms Darbyshire said her father had "got to the stage where he couldn't stand the misery of his life and the indignity of it any more".

However, Scotland Yard said she never mentioned her father's death or the suicide pact until five days later.

Paul Keleher, her defence lawyer, had argued that her actions amounted to assisting suicide rather than committing an unlawful killing.

However, the jury rejected the lesser offences of manslaughter or assisting a suicide.

Ms Darbyshire was born Christopher, but changed her name to Claire by deed poll in 2008 and has lived as a woman for many years.

The Recorder of London, Nicholas Hilliard QC, said he adjourned sentencing until a later date so he could understand the impact of custody "in the particular circumstances".

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