65-year-old man sentenced to seven years after killing his wife with a hammer in the couple's home

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The children of a south Belfast man who fatally attacked his wife (their mother) in the family's home have called for better funding for mental health services in the province.

Gary Baird, 65, was sentenced to seven years, three in custody and four on licence when he appeared before Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday (July 10), having previously pleaded guilty to killing his wife, Susan.

A family statement outlined the importance of better funding for mental health services in the province: "As the four children of Susan Baird, we welcome and accept the verdict of manslaughter with diminished responsibility. Through our immense heartbreak, we hope to see improvements and better funding in mental health services across Northern Ireland.

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"All family members wish to extend their heartfelt thanks to all who have shown kindness, and we ask for privacy as we continue in our grief."

Susan Baird, who was killed after being attacked by her husband in August 2020Susan Baird, who was killed after being attacked by her husband in August 2020
Susan Baird, who was killed after being attacked by her husband in August 2020

Due to the time that Baird has already spent on remand, he will be released from prison later this year.

Mrs Baird, who was 60 years old, was attacked with a hammer in August 2020.

During the sentencing hearing, the judge outlined how the pair had been married for nearly 40 years and had four children together, although the marriage was beginning to strain due to Mr Baird’s mental health difficulties.

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It was further outlined that Mr Baird was involved in an accident with a bin lorry in Belfast just ten days prior to the killing and that he was severely injured.

At a pre-sentencing hearing earlier this week, a defence barrister told the court that a call log on 26 June 2020 indicated that Baird had made more than 570 calls to his GP seeking help with his mental health but "none of them were answered".

Following Mr Baird's' guilty plea, the defendant was sentenced to serve seven years for manslaughter by way of diminished responsibility.

The judge accepted that the defendant’s mental health was “substantially impaired” at the time of the killing and prior to the attack he led a life of “exemplary conduct” and “good character”.

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Detective Inspector Jennifer Rea said: “The investigation began with the defendant reporting his actions to police. While proceedings have concluded with today’s sentencing, I know that the couple’s children, wider family and friends remain submerged in sorrow. My sincere thoughts are with them.”