Glasgow & West Scotland

Woman spared jail after killing her husband following child abuse allegations

Susanne Wilson Image copyright Mike Gibbons/Spindrift
Image caption Susanne Wilson admitted smothering her husband with a cushion after she believed he wanted her to help him die.

A former councillor who killed her husband of 50 years after he had been accused of sexually abusing children has been spared jail.

Susanne Wilson, 72, smothered 70-year-old Henry with a cushion at their home in Ayr in September.

Wilson had been a carer for her housebound husband, who suffered from chronic heart disease.

The court heard she had believed her husband wanted her to help him take his own life.

'Distressing information'

Wilson - who had previously been facing a murder charge - admitted culpable homicide at Glasgow High Court last month.

Prosecutors accepted the plea on the basis of her diminished responsibility at the time due to the strain she was under.

When Wilson appeared for sentencing at the High Court in Dumbarton on Thursday, judge Lady Rae said: "Mr Wilson suffered serious ill health both physically and mentally and it transpires he previously tried to commit suicide.

"In addition you had been confronted with distressing information about the husband you had lived with and loved for 50 years".

Image copyright Google
Image caption Henry Wilson, 70, died at a house in Woodfield Road, Ayr

The judge said it was impossible to imagine the mental torment Wilson had been going through at the time she killed her husband, and said it had clearly distorted her decision making.

Lady Rae added: "While recognising that in most cases such a crime would merit a very significant custodial sentence, I am prepared in the unusual and complex circumstances of this case to impose a non-custodial disposal.

"There is no suggestion whatsoever that you are a risk to the public, I have come to the view therefore that punishment is not appropriate and having reached that conclusion I consider a community payback order is not justified nor is it required."

Sentence was deferred until January for good behaviour and for Wilson to continue receiving treatment from her psychiatrist.

'Very angry'

Wilson had been a Labour councillor in Troon, South Ayrshire, in the late 90s.

The couple had been married for 50 years and had three children together but, their eldest son Jonathan died in 2001 after battling cancer.

She first became aware of allegations that her husband, a retired Butlins shop manager, had sexually abused children in September 2015.

On 3 September last year, Mr Wilson suddenly asked his wife to contact one of the people who had accused him and went on to speak to the individual on the phone.

After the call, his wife was described as being "very angry" and went on to smack her husband with a plastic jug, leaving him bleeding.

The court heard that Mr Wilson then spoke about ending his life with drugs.

His wife left out medication she had previously been prescribed, but did not administer it to him and instead left for a neighbour's home.

When she returned, Wilson noticed her husband had taken some of the medication and was struggling to breathe.

Her husband reportedly said "help me" as his breathing worsened, and she took that as a request that she should help him die.

The court heard that she then smothered him by placing a cushion over his face and holding it there until he died.

The prosecutor said Wilson went on to dial 999 "to report what she had done".