Nurse jailed for 18 years for parents' murders
Thursday 30 September 2010
A nurse found guilty of using "extreme violence" to murder her elderly parents was jailed for life today with a minimum term of 18 years.
Susan Toop killed her father, Arthur Toop, 82, and mother, Joan, 74, at their bungalow in Uplands Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, on November 28, 2008.
The unmarried 54-year-old, who lived with her parents, stabbed them several times before hitting them repeatedly with an ornamental flat iron.
Toop had pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but was found guilty of murder by a jury at Winchester Crown Court in July.
She was sentenced at the Royal Courts of Justice in London today by Mr Justice David Clarke, who imposed two life terms.
Toop, who was present in the dock of the court, was told by the judge that she had done a "terrible thing", killing her parents with "great violence".
He described it as a "sad and tragic" case.
The judge said the jurors convicted Toop of the murder of both her parents and the verdict was one they were "entirely entitled to reach".
He told Toop that although there was "clear evidence of abnormality of mind", the jury clearly thought it did not "significantly or substantially reduce your responsibility for the terrible thing you did in killing your parents that night".
Toop, who had worked as a clinical leader at the outpatients department of the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, told police she wanted to put her parents "out of their misery".
But during the trial the prosecution said her parents had a good quality of life and were not "miserable".
Passing sentence today, the judge said: "Your motivation for killing your parents is far from clear even now.
"It appears that you had come to believe that they were ready to die or wished to die, but it must be made quite clear that there is no objective evidence... that supports that view.
"It was a false belief."
Mr Justice Clarke said the evidence was that the defendant's mother, who was a "forceful personality", had "become quite unhappy for various reasons later in her life".
He added: "She seemed to resent the closeness between you and her husband, your father.
"She became a difficult person to get on with, but that does not mean by any means that she wanted to die."
The evidence about her father was that he still enjoyed life in his declining years and "continued to value his relationship with you, his only child".
Toop, who had no previous convictions and worked for many years as a "well respected and valued nurse", killed her parents with "extreme violence".
The judge stressed that 18 years was only a minimum term and she would not be automatically released at the end of that period.
"That is something that must be assessed at the time," he added.
Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Rob Lowe hits out at White House decision not to meet Israeli leader
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign
Winston Churchill: From accusations of anti-Semitism to the blunt refusal that led to the deaths of millions
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 4 Tennis fan suing Australian Open organisers for 'failing to shade spectators' during Murray match
- 5 Men behaving badly: Urinating while standing, 'manspreading' and the gendering of selfishness