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". .

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music
Arts and Entertainment
Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
music
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"