Gran cleared of murdering terminally-ill husband after they both took overdose
A grandma has been cleared of killing her terminally ill husband of nearly 60 years after they took an overdose together.
Mavis Eccleston, 80, denied murder and manslaughter of 81-year-old husband Dennis, who prosecutors claimed was unaware he was taking a potentially lethal overdose before his death in February last year.
A two-week trial at Stafford Crown Court heard Mrs Eccleston was arrested the day after her husband's death in hospital, after she allegedly made an admission to two mental health nurses.
Giving evidence in her defence last week, the mum-of-three said she and her husband had prepared prescription medication for the overdoses after he gave her instructions and "more or less begged" for her help.
After breaking down in tears from the witness box, she told the court Dennis had kissed her hand in thanks before they both took medication, and had said "good night darling" as she went to lie down on a sofa.
The pair were found unconscious on February 19 at their home in Huntington, Staffs.
A jury of eight men and four women were told Mrs Eccleston wrote a note which stated they were of sound mind and both wished to end their lives.
During his closing speech to the jury, defence barrister Mark Heywood QC said Mrs Eccleston had immediately disputed what the nurses alleged she had said.
The barrister added it was a "fantasy" to suggest Mr Eccleston would not have asked his wife what medication he was taking.
But the prosecution alleged the couple had not formed a "clear and common" agreement to end their own lives at the time they took overdoses.
The court heard an overdose was a significant cause of the death of Mr Eccleston, an 81-year-old retired miner who had refused treatment for bowel cancer and did not wish to be resuscitated by medical staff.
Mrs Eccleston was found not guilty of both the murder and manslaughter of Dennis.
Speaking outside court stood next to her mum, Joy Munns, 54, said the family were "grateful and relieved”.
She added: "If there had been an assisted dying law here in the UK our dad would have been able to have the choice to end his suffering, with medical support, and with his loved ones around him."
Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, said: "Because of the UK's outdated laws on assisted dying, Dennis felt his only option was to end his own life behind closed doors.
"Dennis should not have been forced to take such drastic actions and Mavis should never have been put in this agonising position."
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