Norfolk care home murder: Husband 'unfit for trial' over death of Doreen Virgo

Gray Fair Court care home.
Image caption Doreen Virgo was found at Grays Fair Court care home near Norwich

An 81-year-old man with dementia accused of killing his wife has been found unfit to stand trial.

Michael Virgo, of Mill Street, Buxton, Norfolk allegedly killed his wife Doreen, 89, on 12 July at Grays Fair Court care home, in New Costessey, near Norwich.

Based on medical evidence a judge found his dementia meant Mr Virgo could not enter a plea or stand trial.

A trial of the facts will now take place instead at Ipswich Crown Court.

Mr Justice Griffiths told jurors that Mr Virgo did not have the "mental capability to participate in a conventional trial" and was not "mentally capable, therefore, of pleading guilty or not guilty".

Jurors were instructed that they will need to decide whether Mr Virgo "did the act charged against him, according to the evidence. In brief, asking whether or not he killed Doreen Virgo?"

They will not need to consider his state of mind at the time or why any offence happened, the court heard, but the focus is on what Mr Virgo was alleged to have physically done.

The trial of the facts will begin on Thursday and is expected to last two days.

What is a trial of the facts?

If a court determines that a person is unfit to stand trial, then criminal proceedings cannot proceed.

Prosecutors, however, have the option to have the matter heard as a "trial of the facts" in a public hearing to determine whether an accused committed the acts alleged.

It cannot result in a conviction, but if the court is not satisfied that the accused committed the acts alleged, then they will be acquitted.

The jury is not required to return a verdict of guilty or not guilty.

Instead, they are asked to decide whether or not the accused committed the offence with which they were charged.

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