Wife-killer doctor jailed for six years

Click to follow
The Independent Online
A LEADING gynaecologist was jailed for six years at the Old Bailey after admitting that he battered his wife with a hammer and then threw her to her death from their bedroom window.

Vivian Harris, 51, bludgeoned his wife Jocelyn, 39, at least seven times as she sat sipping coffee with her back to him on the patio of their home in Beckenham, Kent.

He had suffered severe depression over impending divorce proceedings, said Nigel Sweeney, for the prosecution.

Harris, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Lewisham and Guy's Hospitals, London, admitted manslaughter in June last year due to diminished responsibility. His plea of not guilty to murder was accepted by the court.

Mrs Harris's skull was fractured and fragments of it scattered on the patio in the attack - but she was still alive. Harris then wrapped her in a bin liner and sheet and carried her upstairs to the first-floor master bedroom where he threw her back on to the patio, said Mr Sweeney. She died from a fractured spine.

The Recorder of London, Sir Lawrence Verney, said he had heard from three psychiatrists that Harris was suffering from a depressive illness which substantially impaired his mental responsibility for the acts.

He said: "The responsibility for the death of your wife is yours and yours alone. It is a responsibility which is diminished in accordance with the law because of your medical condition at the time - but it is not extinguished or shared."

Harris first tried to cover up the death of his wife - a former nurse - by pretending to police she had fallen from the window. Then he confessed he had "snapped". Harris said that over the last two months she had subjected him to the "most unbelievable feeling of worthlessness over the insane, crazy divorce."

Defence counsel Julian Bevan QC said Harris's guilt and torment for the crime would never end.