Retired scientist Edgar Fairhurst kills partner after duvet row

Exeter Crown Court
Image caption Exeter Crown Court heard the couple had been together 40 years

A retired scientist battered his partner to death with a lump hammer after a row over a duvet, a court was told.

Edgar Fairhurst, 74, accused 83-year-old Marjorie Elphick of nagging him when she complained about the noise of him straightening his duvet.

He launched an attack on his partner in which he "beat her to a pulp".

Mr Fairhurst, a former industrial chemist from north Devon, has admitted manslaughter but denies murder.

Exeter Crown Court heard that he told police: "I had to make sure she was dead and I put her to sleep".

The couple had been together 40 years and were sleeping in separate, but adjoining, beds at their home in Bideford when he killed her on December 30, 2015.

Mr Fairhurst, of Riverside Close, had a history of depression and attempted to take his own life by switching on the gas in the oven and taking five diazepam tablets, the jury heard.

Mrs Elphick had at least 33 injuries, including cuts and bruises to her arms and hands, which she suffered as she tried to fend off the blows from the hammer.

The jury was told the only issue it will need to decide is whether Mr Fairhurst had diminished responsibility because of a mental disorder.

The trial continues.

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