Tuesday 11 December 2018
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Man admits killing wife with Alzheimer disease

A 74-year-old man who "snapped under pressure" when caring for his wife with Alzheimer's disease has been given a suspended manslaughter sentence.

Keith Rumbold was told by the judge, Mr Justice Lloyd-Jones, that he gave "four years of selfless devotion and love" to his wife Shirley, 73.

He strangled her at their home in Prestatyn, Denbighshire, in June.

At Mold Crown Court Rumbold, who admitted manslaughter, was sentenced to 51 weeks, suspended for two years.

He had pleaded not guilty to murder.

The court heard that Mr Rumbold, who had been in custody since his arrest, could not bear the thought of his wife of 50 years being put in a psychiatric ward.

He did not want her placed in a unit and felt that she would only last a couple of weeks.

But the court heard he could not cope with caring for her at home and when she became agitated and refused to dress he snapped and strangled her.

Then he kissed her repeatedly and told her how he was sorry, the court heard.

A trial was due to be held next year but on Friday his guilty plea to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility was accepted by the prosecution.

Mr Rumbold, who had never been in any trouble before, was also placed on supervision and a mental health treatment order was made so that he would receive treatment from a psychiatrist as an out-patient.

Mr Justice Lloyd-Jones told him that he had already served the equivalent of a 12-month sentence since the killing and it was not necessary for him to return to prison.

'Lost self-control'

That morning, when she refused to get dressed, he snapped, grabbed her around the neck for what he thought was a few seconds, and she passed away, the court was told.

She slipped off the bed on to the floor and he placed a pillow under her head and kissed her repeatedly, telling her that he was sorry before attempting to kill himself, taking whisky, ant powder and tablets.

The judge said that he decided to take his own life "because you could not bear to be without her" and tried to stab himself, but did not penetrate the skin.

There was no premeditation, and he was unable to cope with his wife's behaviour.

The judge said: "There is a great deal of mitigation. Your relationship was a very loving one.

"During her illness you gave her four years of selfless devotion and love.

"You snapped and lost self-control under the immense pressure."

Prosecuting barrister John Philpotts said in the days and weeks leading up to Mrs Rumbold's death, she was verbally and sometimes physically aggressive to her husband and his own health began to suffer.

He was reluctant to accept help from outside agencies and appeared to be embarrassed by the situation.

'Law-abiding citizen'

Mr Rumbold seemed very concerned that social services were intervening and hostile to the idea of her moving into residential care, the court heard.

On the day of the killing their daughter attended their home and she found a number of notes from her father warning her to take care on entering the bedroom.

He was lying in the doorway of the dining room and on entering the bedroom she found her mother on the floor with pillows placed either side of her.

Arrested on suspicion of murder, he said during interview: "What happened today was I just put Shirley to sleep. I've always been a law-abiding citizen."

He added: "All I wanted was social services to come round and give us a hand with the cleaning."

After the hearing, Det Sgt Helen Douglas said the sentence concluded a very difficult and sensitive case.

She said the defendant had pleaded guilty to manslaughter and the family accepted the verdict and sentence.

"Our condolences go to Shirley Rumbold's family who have conducted themselves with dignity throughout this deeply distressing time," said DS Douglas from North Wales Police.

"The family wish to say that Shirley Rumbold was a very loving and caring mother who was adored by all her grandchildren.

"They wish to thank all who have supported them throughout these difficult months."

DS Douglas said that the suspended sentence reflected the sensitivity and emotional nature of the case.