Dorset

Bournemouth nurse who killed parents jailed for life

Police cordon at bungalow
Image caption Susan Toop claimed she was putting her parents "out of their misery"

A nurse who murdered her parents by stabbing them and hitting them with an iron has been jailed for life.

Arthur Toop, 82, and his wife Joan, 74, were discovered dead at their bungalow in Uplands Road, Charminster, Bournemouth, on 28 November last year.

Susan Toop, 54, admitted manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility but was convicted of both murders. She will serve a minimum of 18 years.

Toop claimed she was putting her victims "out of their misery".

Mr Justice David Clarke, who imposed two life terms, told Toop that she had done a "terrible thing", killing her parents with "great violence".

"Your motivation for killing your parents is far from clear even now," he said.

"It appears that you had come to believe that they were ready to die or wished to die, but it must be made quite clear that there is no objective evidence... that supports that view.

"It was a false belief."

He described it as a "sad and tragic" case.

Heart condition

During Toop's trial at Winchester Crown Court, Timothy Mousley QC, prosecuting, told the court her parents, with whom she lived, "had a good quality of life" and were not "miserable".

He added that the relationship between Toop and her "domineering" mother had deteriorated in the weeks before she killed her parents.

The nurse, who had worked as a clinical leader at Royal Bournemouth Hospital, crushed up tablets and placed them in her father's sandwich and mother's coffee, the court heard.

The jury was told Mr Toop died from multiple blunt force injuries which fractured his skull.

Mrs Toop suffered multiple blunt force injuries, also probably caused by the ornamental flat iron, and had 28 separate knife wounds.

Mr Mousley said that Toop might have inflicted extra injuries to her father because a pacemaker he had fitted for a heart condition may have led his heart to continue beating, making her believe he was still alive.

Jurors were also told that Toop was overheard by a nurse at a secure hospital where she has been detained to say: "I just wanted us all to go together, we were all supposed to go together."

Det Insp Neil Devoto, from Dorset Police's Major Crime Investigation team, said: "This was a shocking and unusual crime in which two elderly and innocent people lost their lives as a result of a sustained and frenzied attack by their daughter.

"Susan Toop's actions were calculated and deliberate."

Toop was sentenced at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Thursday.

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