But in passing a 30-month prison sentence on the killer, Mr Justice Kay said at the Old Bailey: 'The court does not sanction any mercy killing.'
The judge told David Sawyer, 31, that the way in which he took the life of John O'Mahoney, 26, could not be described as merciful. He had battered him unconscious, tried to strangle him and then drowned him in a bucket of water.
Sawyer, a clerk, admitted manslaughter and his plea of not guilty to murder was accepted on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
The court heard that the two men shared a flat in Brixton, south-west London, and Mr O'Mahoney had only weeks to live when Sawyer attacked him on 29 January. The sound of Sawyer, himself HIV positive and in poor health, banging Mr O'Mahoney's head on the floor was so loud that neighbours heard it, Anne Rafferty QC, for the prosecution, said.
Sawyer insisted on police being called and told them: 'My partner has been really ill. I held his head under the water until he stopped breathing. I kept telling him I was sorry for doing it and that I loved him and he would be going to heaven. I wanted to make sure he wasn't in pain any more. My purpose was to bring his pain and suffering to an end.'
Patrick O'Connor QC, for the defence, said Sawyer was 'horrified' by the circumstances of the killing but believed at the time, when he was in a state of depression and anxiety, that he was doing the right thing.
His friend had ordered him to leave the flat and Sawyer knew that if he went Mr O'Mahoney would attempt suicide.Reuse content