Pensioner who strangled wife is sentenced to one-year pub ban

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The Independent Online

A pensioner who strangled his wife of 52 years has been sentenced with a one-year ban on going to the pub.

Edward Flaherty, 74, who suffers from dementia, was found guilty of culpable homicide at the High Court in Glasgow and was told he would have normally received a prison sentence of 10 years or more for killing his 69-year-old wife, Ina, after she refused to give him money to go out.

But the judge decided that in view of his mental condition, Flaherty would be released from prison soon after starting any custodial sentence and that banning him from the pub would be a more fitting punishment.

During sentencing yesterday, Flaherty was told he would be prevented from leaving his home in Glasgow's Drygate area between 11am and 11pm, with an electronic tag fitted to enforce the ban.

Lord Matthews said: "You were found guilty of the culpable homicide of your wife, who you were together with for many years. In normal circumstances this would attract a prison sentence in double figures. I have read and considered a number of reports from experts.

"It is plain to me that if I were to impose that sort of sentence, you would be released in a very short time because prison would not be able to cope with your condition. Sentencing you would just be a token gesture. I am anxious to impose a sentence that restricts your liberty.

"You still go to the pub where you went with your wife. That must annoy her relatives. Not being able to go there will be a more meaningful disposal than a prison sentence which will not last long."

During his trial, the jury was told that Flaherty, a retired scaffolder, had said he had no memory of strangling his wife with a tie in April last year.

But when he was asked who had killed her, he admitted: "It must have been me. There are no ghosts running about the house who would have done that." Some members of the jury cried when Flaherty said that he and his wife had a "strong and firm" marriage, adding that he had never struck her and she had never hit him.

He was originally charged with murder, but the jury convicted him of the lesser charge of culpable homicide.

Mrs Flaherty, who was 18 when they married, had furred-up arteries and the jury was told that only a slight pressure around her neck would have been enough to result in her death. Donald MacLeod QC, defending Flaherty, told the court that he had suffered a significant "physical and mental decline". He added: "There is a clear diagnosis of dementia setting in. It is a progressive condition and ultimately he will need 24-hour care.

"I am deeply conscious there has been a death here, but this man is very unwell. He was always willing to plead guilty to culpable homicide, but this was flatly rejected by the Crown and that is why a trial was necessary."