Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

OAP bailed on wife murder charge killed himself

A depressed 79-year-old man charged with murder after unlawfully killing his sick wife committed suicide after being granted bail by a court, an inquest heard today.

Alan Thomas gave Winifred Thomas, 77, tablets to make her feel drowsy before pushing her head under water in the bath at the family home.

Retired chartered building surveyor Thomas waited until he was certain she was dead before calling police and telling an operator: "I've just helped my wife to die."

The inquest heard that housewife Mrs Thomas had been suffering from arthritis and was unable to use her hands.

Police were told by Thomas that she had attempted suicide several times as she became frustrated at her increasing inability to look after herself.

Thomas told officers: "You don't know what it's like. I even had to change her sanitary towels. Imagine that." He added: "I wanted to be certain that she wanted to end her life.

"It's not something to enter into lightly. I knew once she had got into the bath that she would not be able to get out and I wouldn't be able to get her out. She knew that as well."

Emergency services arrived at the couple's home in Deanwood Drive, Rainham, Kent, on May 9 last year and found Mrs Thomas lying face up in the bath.

In a statement read at County Hall, Maidstone, Pc Sarah Lambert said Thomas was sitting in a chair clearly upset with his hands shaking.

"He said he loved her," the officer said.

A post-mortem examination carried out at the Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham by Dr Robert Chapman showed no evidence of acute natural disease that would have contributed to her death.

Bruises found on Mrs Thomas's head could have been caused by her being forcibly pushed under the water, the pathologist added. The cause of death was confirmed as drowning.

Thomas, who had two sons with his wife, was arrested on suspicion of murder and confirmed that he had pushed his wife's head under the water.

Detective Chief Inspector David Chewter, of Kent Police's major crime department, said: "During interview he confirmed that account both that day and the next day.

"He said he had lifted her legs up to help lie her flat in the bath." No-one else was present at the couple's home when she drowned, he added.

Mr Chewter said Thomas said he had been happy to continue caring for his wife but that she was depressed at being unable to function properly.

Thomas was charged with murder and appeared at Medway Magistrates' Court.

On May 13, he appeared at Crown Court where he was granted conditional bail and later he was allowed to return home when his conditions were varied.

Coroner Roger Sykes said he was satisfied Mrs Thomas was unlawfully killed and that her husband took his own life.