Glasgow & West Scotland

Jeffrey Ash jailed for smothering his sick mother Ellen

A man who admitted smothering his mother after struggling with her dementia-related care needs has been jailed for 40 months.

Jeffrey Ash, 50, killed 83-year-old Ellen Ash before setting fire to the family home in Colston, Glasgow.

He fled to London after the death in March and handed himself in to police.

Ash pleaded guilty to charges of culpable homicide and wilful fire-raising. He will be supervised for a year after his release.

Jailing him at the High Court in Edinburgh, judge Lord Pentland said: "The primary concern to which I must have regard in selecting the appropriate sentence is the fundamental principle of the sanctity of human life.

'Burden of guilt'

"No matter how difficult circumstances had become you had no right - as you now acknowledge - to take her life."

The judge said that Ash's duty was to seek further support. He added. "You will always have to bear the burden of guilt."

Lord Pentland told Ash that he would have been jailed for five years but for his guilty pleas.

An earlier hearing at the High Court in Glasgow was told that Ash was the primary carer for his mother at the detached home they shared.

Mrs Ash suffered from dementia and her condition had deteriorated in the two years before she died.

Her symptoms included being frequently confused and wandering from her house.

In March 2011, social work services considered 24-hour care for Mrs Ash - but her son refused.

Prosecutor John Scullion said: "He declined stating that he was not ready to place his mother into a care home."

The court heard that Mrs Ash had at times also begged her son not to put her in a home and he had agreed.

At the start of last year, Mrs Ash spent almost two months in hospital before being discharged.

'Difficulty coping'

A plan was then put in place which involved carers visiting the family home twice daily.

In June, this was reduced to a single visit each morning.

Mr Scullion told how Mrs Ash's GP confirmed - that in the period before her death - she was "very difficult to treat" and "extremely un-cooperative" due to her illness.

The advocate depute added: "The accused continued to show appropriate concern for his mother, but indicated that he was having difficulty coping".

Mrs Ash spent further time in hospital in February this year before again being returned to her son a week before her death.

The court heard her care needs eventually reached the stage where her son could apparently take no more.

The killing came to light when a member of the public noticed smoke coming from the family home in the early hours of 21 March.

Flammable liquids

Fire crews arrived to find Mrs Ash's badly-burned corpse on the living room floor.

Six bottles of white spirit and turpentine substitute were also found around the property.

Ash meantime fled on a bus to London before handing himself into Belgravia police station later that afternoon.

He told an officer: "I killed my mum last night. I smothered her then I burnt the house down.

"I could not see her suffering anymore - she had Alzheimer's.

"I then got on a bus to London. I could not stay around there anymore - I had to get away."

He was eventually brought back to Scotland where he told police: "I am guilty and I want to do time."

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