Saturday 25 January 2020

Husband (81) sentenced for shooting wife suffering from dementia

Rita King was shot by her husband Photo: PA
Rita King was shot by her husband Photo: PA

Dean Gray

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 Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex, on December 28 last year.

"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," Judge Charles Gratwicke said.


The gun used was his father-in-law's old service revolver, which he took to the care home from his home. 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 himself.

King denied murder at an earlier hearing but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and told police he wanted to stop his wife suffering.

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

King was sentenced to six years for manslaughter, five years for possession of a firearm, 12 months for possession of ammunition, with the custodial terms to run concurrently and to be served in a secure psychiatric hospital.

Irish Independent

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