Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Sheffield man convicted of wife's 'mercy killing'

A man who suffocated his 75-year-old wife when he feared her suicide attempt would fail has been found guilty of killing her.

George Webb was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility after a trial at Sheffield Crown Court.

The 73-year-old, of Luke Lane, Wadsley, Sheffield, mouthed "thank you" to jury members as they gave their verdict.

He was given bail until Thursday, when he will be sentenced.

The judge said he would leave "all options open".

Webb killed his wife at their ground-floor flat in May.

During his trial the jury heard that Webb, who is also known as Hugh, told police his wife Beryl begged him to help her kill herself after years of suffering pain from a range of ailments.

Brain damage fear

But prosecutors 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".

Prosecutors told the court Mrs Webb had talked for years about killing herself and how her husband could help her.

Webb told police his wife had prepared a tray with two glasses of brandy and orange and a large number of lorazepam tablets, which she had been saving up.

After taking the tablets she fell asleep, he said, but when his wife started to sleep more lightly he feared she would wake with brain damage so he placed a plastic bag over her face, covered it with a towel and pressed down with his hands over her face.

A consultant forensic psychiatrist told the court that Webb showed classic signs of depression at the time of his wife's death.

Webb's lawyers told the court they would be arguing at his sentencing that he should not be sent to prison.

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