A 95-year-old man who bludgeoned his wife of 65 years with a lump hammer in an attempted mercy killing has been spared jail.
Denver Beddows attacked wife Olive, 88, at their home in Warrington, Cheshire, after she begged him to take her life because she did not want to die in a care home or a hospital.
Mrs Beddows suffered multiple skull fractures and lacerations but is making “a good recovery” in hospital.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that the couple’s marriage was “perfect and happy” but both their physical and mental health suffered after Mrs Beddows was involved in a car accident about nine months before the attack on February 4.
Mrs Beddows dreaded being take into care and repeatedly asked the defendant, who had suffered long-term depression himself, to kill her before, under “immense pressure”, he hit her with a pan before he struck a number of blows to her head with a hammer.
Sentencing the pensioner – who had been in custody since the incident – the Recorder of Liverpool, Judge Clement Goldstone QC, said a judge’s last remark in a case was usually the actual sentence but he told Beddows immediately that he would not be going to jail so as not to “prolong your agony”.
Judge Goldstone noted that his wife had forgiven Beddows and that she wished to be reunited with him.
He said: “That is indeed true love, no doubt earned by you over 65 years of devoted and loyal, loving married life, described by you as perfect and happy.
“There is no place in a case of this kind for the inflexible application of sentencing guidelines and the guidelines acknowledge as much in the case of what would have been a mercy killing had it succeeded.
“Whether you will be able to spend the rest of your days together is not a decision for me.”
Beddows, who pleaded guilty earlier this month to attempted murder, was sentenced to two years in jail, suspended for two years.