Glasgow & West Scotland

Pensioner cleared of murder after smothering his wife

Ian Gordon Image copyright Spindrift
Image caption Ian Gordon smothered his wife with a pillow at their home in Troon

A man who smothered his ill wife to death with a pillow has been cleared of her murder.

Ian Gordon, 67, admitted killing his wife Patricia at their home in Troon last April, at an earlier hearing.

At the High Court in Glasgow his plea was accepted by prosecutors who withdrew the charge of murder.

They said the murder trial would have continued had it not been for the "moving" evidence of the couple's daughter, Gail Whyte.

The 46-year-old described the long-standing ailments her mother suffered, her fear of hospitals and the devotion her father had for his wife.

Prosecutor Ian McSporran QC told the court: "The plea of guilty to culpable homicide on the basis that the accused was suffering diminished responsibility at the time of the act of the killing is now acceptable to the Crown."

He added: "During the course of the evidence given yesterday by the daughter of the accused and deceased I formed the view there was now in evidence a factual basis upon which I could and should review the position.

"I pause to say that it might be rare to see such a plainly credible and very moving account given in evidence."

"I think it right to say that but for the evidence of that witness the Crown would have continued with this trial on a charge of murder."

'Excruciating pain'

During her evidence Mrs Whyte told how her father gave up work in 2015 to look after her mother.

She described her mother as being "convinced" she had lung cancer but not wanting to be diagnosed, or treated for the disease.

And she said her mother had a history of anxiety and depression and a deep-rooted fear of hospitals.

She told the court: '"He had nothing whatsoever to gain by doing that and absolutely everything to lose. They were together nearly 50 years."

She said she loved her dad "beyond measure" and completely supports him.

Mrs Whyte told jurors he phoned her in the early hours of the morning and said her mother was "away".

Image copyright Sprindrift
Image caption Gail Whyte said her mother was "screaming and moaning" and in "excruciating pain" in the hours before she died

She told of seeing her mother for the last time hours before she died.

Mr McSporran asked: "How was she?"

Mrs Whyte said: "She was screaming and moaning. She was clearly in excruciating pain. I was really alarmed because I hadn't gleaned that degree of pain from my dad earlier in the day.

"She couldn't get comfortable, dad had propped her up. He was trying to get her comfortable.

"I have never heard a noise like that before, and certainly not from my mum, it was absolutely harrowing."

The court heard that by the time she left, her mother was settled and had stopped crying out.

Mrs Whyte said that around 04:30 the following day, her father phoned her and said her mother "was away".

She told the court: "I just said ok. He asked me to come down and I just said ok."

Death pact

Mrs Whyte told the court that she can't remember what happened when she arrived, but accepted what she told the police was correct.

In her statement she said: "My dad said 'I pulled the blanket over her to keep her warm. I'm sorry, but the tablets weren't working, I couldn't see her in that pain'."

And: "I don't remember his exact words but something like 'I'm not going to tell you what I did', he then said 'I know I'm going to jail, I don't know how long for but I don't have a single regret. There will be a post mortem and the cause of death will be asphyxia but she was in so much pain'".

In evidence she said she "absolutely knows why" her father did what he did and she is glad he was able to help her mother.

Mrs Whyte said she knew about a "pact" her parents had and said her mother knew her own mind.

She added: "My mum was my dad's entire world, everything he did was for my mum and when we were at home for us.

"She was his reason for getting up in the morning."

Sentence was deferred and Gordon's bail was continued.

Related Topics

More on this story