Family slams Crown Office in axe killing case

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The Independent Online

A man who killed his wife in an axe attack "got away with murder", her family said today.

Retired midwife Ann Geddes, 63, was found dead at the Angus home she shared with her husband on Sunday February 7 this year.

Roger Geddes, 61, was initially accused of murder but prosecutors accepted his guilty plea to the lesser charge of culpable homicide on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that experts who examined the retired civil servant concluded he was mentally impaired at the time.

The couple's daughter, 31-year-old Angela Geddes, said what she had witnessed in court was a "guide to getting away with murder" by the Crown Office.

"The family are devastated at the lack of justice and the charade we have seen in court," she said.

Miss Geddes said she believed Geddes had managed to "deceive" the psychiatrists who examined him.

Branding her father a "cold and calculating killer", she said: "This is a man who deliberately went out of his way to lie, deceive and proactively mislead the police to throw them off the scent and did not admit that he killed my mum until he was cornered and confronted.

"We cannot reconcile this judgment with his behaviour after the killing.

"This is an insult to the memory of my wonderful mum, who spent her working life caring for others and making things better."

The court heard that the couple had been married for about 35 years.

They moved to Carnoustie after Mrs Geddes retired from her role in midwifery management at Leeds Hospital six years ago.

Advocate depute Bruce Erroch said: "She was heavily involved with the local church and was, by all accounts, a popular and respected member of the community."

The court heard that the marriage had been unhappy for some time and that, for more than a year before the killing, Geddes had been suffering from depression and anxiety, which strained their relationship.

On the day before the killing, Mrs Geddes recorded in a diary that her husband was in a volatile state.

According to the note, she also told him she was going to leave him unless he told his doctor how bad his condition was.

Geddes admitted that, the next day, he tied a dressing-gown belt around his wife's wrists and repeatedly hit her with an axe.

Police went to the home in Panbride Road after he told his daughter over the phone: "She's in the bedroom. She's dead. I've killed her. We had an argument. I'm sorry. I've called the police."

The exchange followed a series of calls between the two during the day, in which he initially sounded "normal".

During one conversation, Miss Geddes asked to speak to her mother and Geddes attempted to impersonate the victim, speaking in a hoarse voice. He later claimed that his wife had been taken to hospital.

The court heard that Miss Geddes became concerned after ringing various local hospitals and found that her mother was not a patient.

When police arrived at the home later that day, Geddes told them: "I've murdered my wife. She's in the house."

Geddes told officers during questioning that he "lost control under medication" during a row.

"I flew off the handle. I hit her with a hammer axe thing. I hit her with it on the head quite a lot of times, I lost control," he told police.

He also said that, after returning from disposing of the weapon and his clothes, he "tried to fix a rope up in the garage" but it was too difficult to do.

"The implication was that he was going to hang himself," Mr Erroch told the court.

"The family, as a whole, is devastated by the killing of Mrs Geddes, and Miss Geddes, in particular, says that she feels as though she has lost both of her parents."

Judge Lord Doherty ordered Geddes to be detained at the State Hospital in Carstairs, where he has been staying since February 16, for the next 12 weeks.

He will come before the judge again in September, when the court will consider the next step to be taken.