Ronald King admits manslaughter of wife Rita in care home shooting

Ronald and Rita King Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption Ronald King admitted shooting his wife of 50 years at her care home

An 87-year-old man who shot his wife at a care home has been cleared of murder after the trial judge directed the jury to accept a plea of manslaughter by diminished responsibility.

Ronald King killed his wife Rita, 81, who had dementia, at De La Mer House in Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex, in December.

On Monday, a psychiatrist said evidence from an MRI scan showed King had a mental illness at the time.

King, who always denied murder, is due to return to court at the end of July.

Chelmsford Crown Court judge Charles Gratwicke directed the jury to find King not guilty of murder, but instead guilty of manslaughter.

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Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption The gun Ronald King used to shoot his wife had belonged to her father, the court heard

This MRI evidence was not an element that was known at the start of the trial.

Its emergence meant that the prosecution said it would accept a plea of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

During the trial, the court heard how King told care home staff his wife "had suffered enough".

Jurors heard he shot Mrs King through the eye with her father's World War Two Enfield service revolver, using a bullet dating back to 1943.

Speaking after the trial, the family of Mrs King said: "The tragedy of what happened has had an impact on the whole family. We are a large but close family.

Image copyright PA/East News Press Agency
Image caption Ronald King admitted manslaughter of his wife Rita on grounds of diminished responsibility

"We would never have imagined what happened to Rita. It has shocked us all and left us deeply saddened.

"We know her last months in the De La Mer home were happy and she was well looked after.

"She used to love sitting watching the birds, especially when they used the birdbath. We are sure she still watches them now she is at rest."

Image caption Mrs King was shot dead in the lounge of the De La Mer House

Det Insp Alan Pitcher said: "I would like to pay tribute to Ronald's and Rita's families for the support they have provided to our investigation and the dignity they have shown throughout.

"This is a particularly sad and tragic case and my thoughts are very much with them at this time."

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