Man jailed for trying to end dying father's life

A man who was caught trying to smother his dying father on a hospital ward after learning he had no chance of survival has been jailed for six and a half years.

Joseph Peachey, 49, was caught by a nurse with one hand over the dementia sufferer's mouth and the other pinching his nose after being overheard telling him to "just die". He had been distraught after learning that Albert Peachey, 79, had no hope of recovery and would not be allowed to die at home in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

A jury found him unanimously guilty of attempting to murder his father at Eastbourne District General Hospital following a four-day trial at Lewes Crown Court in June. He had admitted four counts of assault after he lashed out at hospital staff and police officers when they intervened. A Taser was used to restrain him during the incident, on 20 December last year.

Judge Richard Hayward told him in court: "While I have no doubt that you were upset, your violent reaction, I'm satisfied, was also borne out of not being able to do what you wanted.

"Your father was completely vulnerable. He had absolutely no way of protecting himself and clearly such people must be protected from people who seek to end their lives prematurely."

Jurors heard that Mr Peachey, who had bowel cancer and had suffered a "massive" stroke, died five days later, but his son's actions were not believed to have contributed. Prosecutors argued he had not been trying to carry out a mercy killing as he had initially denied trying to end his father's life.

Kathryn Hirst, defending Peachey, said his "strong sense of duty" meant he had cared for both his parents during their final days.

His mother had died a few months earlier and he was still coming to terms with her death when his father was admitted to hospital. He was also suffering from depression.