South East Wales

Dementia carer 'smothered wife and tried to kill himself'

Margaret and Angus Mayer Image copyright Family picture

A man killed his wife, who had dementia, to "put her out of her misery" before he tried to take his own life, an inquest has heard.

Margaret Mayer, 85, was found dead at the Cardiff home she shared with her husband Angus, 86, who tried to smother her before beating her to death.

Mr Mayer climbed in front of a train in Cardiff the day her body was found in July 2016. He died seven weeks later.

The coroner ruled Mrs Mayer was unlawful killed.

The family has criticised social services after raising concerns about Mr Mayer's ability to cope with caring.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image copyright Wales News Service

The inquest in Cardiff heard Mr Mayer climbed in front of a slow-moving train at Cardiff Central railway station, which was unable to stop before it hit him, badly injuring his legs.

He told police who tried to help him: "I killed my wife this morning, I smothered her. I put her out of her misery."

Mr Mayer was described as speaking in a matter-of-fact way and said he would spend the rest of his life in prison.

He later told officers he tried to smother Mrs Mayer with a pillow, but when that did not work he hit her with a brass lamp.

The inquest heard one officer was told by Mr Mayer: "My wife suffers with dementia and incontinence. She told me if I ever put her in a home she'd kill herself.

"I told her it would be quick then I'd throw myself under a train."

He was arrested on suspicion of murder but died seven weeks later.

Image copyright Wales News Service

The coroner was told the couple's six children had become increasingly concerned about the effect the caring role was having on Mr Mayer, four years after his wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

He had lost his enthusiasm for life and the things he once enjoyed, according to one daughter.

After concerns were raised by the family in February, Mrs Mayer started attending a day centre twice a week, but the week before her death, the children again contacted Cardiff council about their fears.

The couple's son, Andrew Mayer, told the inquest he and his brother Stuart "feared dad would end up killing mum".

He said he raised concerns about his father losing his temper with his mother at night with social services, but did not mention his fears about him harming her.

The council's adult services manager told the inquest there was nothing to suggest Mrs Mayer was in danger and, in hindsight, nothing would have been done differently.

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Media captionSon Andrew said his father was 'unable to make clear decisions'

Coroner Andrew Barkley concluded there was nothing to suggest Mrs Mayer's death could have been foreseen or Mr Mayer posed a risk to her.

"No failings on their [social services] part caused or contributed to what's happened," he added.

Speaking after the inquest, Andrew Mayer said: "I'd like to think social services would review the way they deal with families struggling with dementia.

"My father was 86, fatigued and exhausted, but the protocol of their system was if my father agreed to anything then they would come and review or reappraise how their care package was.

"There should be something in place that allows the family to contribute to this and be part of the process. There was a vacuum in terms of communication.

"If the service involved the family as a whole, where dementia is concerned, mum and dad would still be alive."

Image copyright Wales News Service

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