Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Sheffield man smothered wife in 'mercy killing'

A 73-year-old man smothered his wife in a "mercy killing" after she tried to kill herself with brandy and pills, a jury has heard.

George Webb said his wife Beryl begged him to help her kill herself after years of suffering from a range of ailments, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

Mr Webb, who is also known as Hugh, denies murdering his wife at their flat in Wadsley, Sheffield, in May.

The court heard Mrs Webb, 75, was "determined" to kill herself.

Nick Flewitt QC, prosecuting, told the jury that although Mrs Webb suffered from a range of different conditions, she also had a "histrionic personality disorder".

This meant she would "always tend to over-dramatise any description of what she saw, felt, heard or experienced".

Mr Flewitt said Mr Webb told detectives his wife had prepared a tray with two glasses of brandy and 34 lorazepam tablets, which she had been saving up.

Mr Webb told police he smothered his wife after she took the tablets because he feared she would wake with brain damage.

Wife 'strong-willed'

Mr Flewitt said: "He placed a plastic bag over her face, covered it with a towel and pressed down with his hands over her face.

"He described how his wife raised her arm to prevent what was happening. As a result of her resistance he got on top of her so that he could apply more pressure.

"After about half an hour or so he got off her and sat with her in order to ensure that she had died in accordance with her wishes."

Mr Flewitt said Mr Webb told police he slept on the settee and after breakfast and a shower the next morning he telephoned his half-sister and then the police.

Mr Flewitt said: "The defendant told police that in the weeks leading up to her death he had tried to persuade his wife not to commit suicide.

"However, his wife was a very strong-willed person and she was determined to do so."

The trial was adjourned until Tuesday.

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