Psychiatric sentence for OAP who shot wife

Ronald Kings ability to form rational judgments was impaired, said the judge
Ronald Kings ability to form rational judgments was impaired, said the judge

A pensioner who shot his 81-year-old wife dead at a care home has been sentenced to six years in a psychiatric hospital.

Ronald King, 87, formed the “settled intention” to kill his wife Rita, whose dementia had worsened in the months before her death, Chelmsford Crown Court heard.

Judge Charles Gratwicke said the manslaughter was “not a mercy killing”, but accepted that King was suffering from dementia himself and that this had impaired his ability to form rational judgments.

King shot his wife of 50 years in the communal television room of De La Mer House in Naze Park Road, Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex, on December 28 2015.

The weapon used was his father-in-law’s old service revolver which he took to the care home from his home address, and his wife died instantly as a bullet passed through her right eye.

He had also planned to kill his sister, who was also a resident at the home, and then to kill himself.

King, of Cedar Close, Walton-on-the-Naze, denied murder at an earlier hearing but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility or by survivor of a suicide pact.

Judge Gratwicke, sentencing, said: “This was from every angle a tragedy.”

King had told police he wanted to stop his wife suffering any more.

But Judge Gratwicke said: “As you will know, there’s no evidence that she was in pain or suffering any more than anyone else who has succumbed to dementia. This was not a mercy killing.”

The judge accepted that King had been a devoted husband to his wife, strived to took care of her and that there was no malice in her killing.

King was also in ill health.