Glasgow & West Scotland

Jeffrey Ash admits smothering his sick mother Ellen

The son of a woman who suffered from dementia has admitted smothering her after struggling with her care needs.

Jeffrey Ash, 50, killed 83-year-old Ellen Ash before setting fire to the family home in Colston, Glasgow.

He fled to London after the death in March and handed himself into police.

Ash admitted to charges of culpable homicide and wilful fire-raising when he appeared at the High Court in Glasgow. Judge Lord Pentland deferred sentence and remanded him in custody.

The court heard that Ash was the primary carer for his mother at the detached home they shared.

Condition deteriorated

Mrs Ash suffered from dementia and her condition had deteriorated in the two years before she died.

Her symptoms included being frequently confused and wandering from her house.

In March 2011, social work services considered 24-hour care for Mrs Ash - but her son refused.

Prosecutor John Scullion said: "He declined stating that he was not ready to place his mother into a care home."

The court heard that Mrs Ash had at times also begged her son not to put her in a home and he had agreed.

At the start of last year, Mrs Ash spent almost two months in hospital before being discharged.

A plan was then put in place which involved carers visiting the family home twice daily.

In June, this was reduced to a single visit each morning.

Mr Scullion told how Mrs Ash's GP confirmed - that in the period before her death - she was "very difficult to treat" and "extremely un-cooperative" due to her illness.

The advocate depute added: "The accused continued to show appropriate concern for his mother, but indicated that he was having difficulty coping".

Flat fire

Mrs Ash spent further time in hospital in February this year before again being returned to her son a week before her death.

The court heard her care needs eventually reached the stage where her son could apparently take no more.

The killing came to light when a member of the public noticed smoke coming from the family home in the early hours of 21 March.

Fire crews arrived to find Mrs Ash's badly-burned corpse on the living room floor.

Six bottles of white spirit and turpentine substitute were also found around the property.

Ash meantime fled on a bus to London before handing himself into Belgravia police station later that afternoon.

He told an officer: "I killed my mum last night. I smothered her then I burnt the house down.

"I could not see her suffering anymore - she had Alzheimer's.

"I then got on a bus to London. I could not stay around there anymore - I had to get away."

'I am guilty'

He was eventually brought back to Scotland where he told police: "I am guilty and I want to do time."

Ash broke down in the dock as prosecutor Mr Scullion narrated his confession.

The court heard there was "common ground" between psychiatrists who examined Ash that he was suffering from an "abnormality of the mind" at the time.

Mr Scullion said it was accepted that this "substantially impaired his ability" to control his actions.

Ash's QC Donald Findlay said the killing was one of the most "desperately sad" cases he had encountered.

Mr Findlay told the court: "Jeffrey Ash was a loving son, who lost his mother some years ago and was left to tend and care someone he hardly knew.

"He had to watch her condition deteriorate and he watched someone who had no quality of life or understanding of the world she was left to exist in."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites