Pensioner 'killed wife in failed suicide pact'

A pensioner killed his wife of 50 years then stabbed himself in a failed suicide pact, a court heard today.

Peter Cooper, 72, is charged with the murder of his wife, Audrey, 70, who he admits stabbing twice as they sat on a bench in Mountbatten War Memorial Park, Romsey, Hampshire, on January 18 last year.

Winchester Crown Court heard that Cooper, a former warrant officer in the Army, then stabbed himself three times and held his dead wife in his arms as he waited to die himself.

Nigel Pascoe QC, prosecuting, said that Cooper claims to have entered a suicide pact with his wife because they could not face her being sectioned to hospital because of her deteriorating mental health.

Mr Pascoe described how Cooper, of Highfield Lane, Southampton, waited for two hours after he had stabbed his wife before he contacted the emergency services.

In a 999 call read to the court, Cooper said: "I've stabbed her. Yeah and I've tried to stab myself, I didn't do quite such a good job on it."

Mr Pascoe said that Cooper wrote a letter to their only daughter Karen Bolarinwa explaining their "joint decision" to end their lives.

The letter said: "We have made a joint decision that the only way we can be together and be at peace is to end our lives.

"It is not an easy decision and it breaks our hearts knowing what it will do to you.

"Please forgive us, this is not at all the intended way but we just cannot go on like this."

A note in Mrs Cooper's writing was also found attached to a piece of jewellery addressed to her daughter and grandsons Ben and Jordan.

It said: "Jewels expensive, love you."

Mr Pascoe said that Cooper admits killing his wife and would plead guilty to a charge of manslaughter.

He said the lesser charge would only be acceptable if it could be proven that the couple had genuinely entered into a suicide pact and that Mrs Cooper was in the right state of mind to make that decision.

He added that a second defence would be that Cooper himself had been in a state of diminished responsibility when he killed his wife.

Mr Pascoe said: "In so serious a case as the taking of a life, the difference between murder and manslaughter should be resolved by a jury rather than by an agreement between lawyers, these are issues too big to be dealt with in any other way."