Ex-policeman faces jail after killing fatally ill wife

A former policeman who admitted killing his terminally ill wife in a suicide pact faces jail after pleading guilty to manslaughter yesterday.

A former policeman who admitted killing his terminally ill wife in a suicide pact faces jail after pleading guilty to manslaughter yesterday.

Brian Blackburn, 62, slit his wife Margaret's wrists before making a deep incision into one of his own. His life was saved only after he dialled 999 and confessed to what he had done.

Mrs Blackburn, 62, a retired nurse from Surrey, suffered stomach cancer but had refused to seek medical help because of her hatred of surgery.

Blackburn, who had served with Hampshire Police before retiring, was initially charged with murder but after hearing evidence of a suicide pact the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) accepted his guilty plea to manslaughter.

Richard Whittam, for the prosecution, told the Old Bailey it was clear that there was a "loving relationship" between the couple. "Margaret Blackburn suspected she was suffering from cancer but because of her previous work in a hospice, she refused to seek help and had an abhorrence of surgery," he said.

After her death, it was discovered that she had a tumour in her stomach and the prognosis for the rest of her life would have been "very short, very poor", Mr Whittam said. "He [Mr Blackburn] rang police and immediately stated that he had killed his wife as part of a suicide pact because she was very ill." He said the evidence of the injuries sustained by Mr Blackburn were a result of a serious attempt to take his own life.

Yesterday the CPS confirmed that prosecutors had considered testimony from Mrs Blackburn's two grown-up sons who had said that she had visited them to say goodbye.

Blackburn was remanded in custody for reports until 14 January when he will be sentenced. Although manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, lawyers said last night that Blackburn was likely to receive a much lesser jail term and could even escape a prison sentence.

In the past few years a number of people accused of "mercy killings" have been given non-custodial sentences. Government ministers have announced a review of homicide laws that could take account of "mercy killings" and assisted suicides.

* The issue of euthanasia is expected to cause trouble for Tony Blair in the House of Commons today, with nearly 40 Labour backbenchers having signed a motion condemning the Mental Incapacity Bill, which will place on the statute book the concept of a "living will". The Labour backbenchers believe that the provision will lead to the introduction of legal "mercy killing". .

Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments