Couple jailed for inheritance murder plot

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The Independent Online

A man who tried to smother his elderly mother to claim an inheritance was jailed for five years today.

Barry Armstrong-Smith, 47, and his partner, Marrion Herrington, 43, attempted to murder Anne Smith, then 81, at the bungalow they shared with her in Acomb, York, in February this year.



Shortly after Mrs Smith's return from hospital following a serious illness, the pair began to tire of caring for her, and on 29 February formed a plan to kill her while at their local pub.



"For a son to try and murder his mother, who had done so much for him, simply to get his hands on her money a little earlier and to stop her being a pest, is unthinkable to any right-minded member of society," Judge James Stewart QC told them at Leeds Crown Court.



The couple stood to inherit around £40,000 from Armstrong-Smith's share of his mother's house.



They returned home and entered a sleeping Mrs Smith's bedroom, where Herrington turned the light on and stood in the doorway, giving Armstrong-Smith courage "for the horrible task that lay ahead" while her partner tried to suffocate his mother with pillows, a duvet and a sheet.



Judge Stewart said: "You, Armstrong-Smith, held the pillow over your mother's face, intending to murder her by suffocation, but you didn't count on her fighting spirit - she fought like a tiger for air, she drew on reserves she never, in her weak state, thought she had.



"So hard did she fight that the enormity of what you were doing, I find, dawned on you, Armstrong-Smith, and you gave up your attempt."



Mrs Smith then barricaded herself into her bedroom and pressed the panic alarm she kept around her neck, alerting emergency services.



When paramedics arrived she told them: "They tried to kill me."



Armstrong-Smith pleaded guilty earlier this year to the attempted murder of his mother, while Herrington was found guilty of the same crime in September, after a trial at Leeds Crown Court.



She was also jailed for five years.



Judge Stewart said of Mrs Smith: "She came across to me as a proud, independent, extremely articulate woman who greatly enjoyed her life, which you two tried to end."



He continued: "Out of the goodness of her heart she had taken you both in to live with her in her bungalow in Acomb in York. She was elderly and frail, she was hard of hearing, she couldn't walk too well.



"The understanding which was reached, or so she understood it, was that the two of you would look after her in her own home in exchange for you living there.



"She had rescued both of you from destitution."