Former mayor of Winchester smothered elderly mother with cushion, court told

David McLean told NHS operators that he ‘could not stand’ watching his mother suffer

Holly Evans
Tuesday 30 April 2024 15:59 BST
David McLean allegedly attempted to murder his elderly mother
David McLean allegedly attempted to murder his elderly mother (Winchester City Council)

A former mayor of Winchester attempted to end his elderly mother’s life by smothering her with a cushion because he “could not stand” to watch her “suffering”, a court has heard.

David McLean, 72, had been holding a bedside vigil for his mother during the early hours of 7 October 2022 when he is alleged to have attempted to kill her.

He later told NHS call operators and the police that he “could not stand” watching her suffering and had picked up a cushion and attempted to smother her for “15 seconds”.

McLean is currently on trial for the attempted murder of 92-year-old Margaret McLean at her home in Waltham Chase, Hampshire, as she underwent end-of-life care.

Jodie Mittell, prosecuting, said they did not allege that McLean’s actions caused his mother’s death although she had died at about the same time.

She told the jurors: “This is on any view a sad case.

“The defendant in this case is David McLean, an upstanding member of the community, someone of impeccable good character, in fact he was formerly the mayor of Winchester.

“On the evening of 6 October 2022, Mr McLean, for reasons you may have some sympathy with, tried to end his elderly mother’s life.

“His mother, Margaret McLean, was 92 years old, and she was dying, she was at home and she had been attended upon by a number of carers and medical professionals in the preceding days.

“Mr McLean, her son, then aged 70, was alone with her at her house, by her bedside precisely because those professionals thought she may be about to die.

“She was on end-of-life care and he was her bedside vigil. Sadly Mr McLean tried to speed up his mother’s demise, using a pillow he attempted to smother her.

“A significant amount of the evidence comes from Mr McLean’s own admissions, his confession, guilt-ridden no doubt, about what he had done.

“Mrs McLean was suffering from a number of medical conditions which were expected to mean she would pass away imminently.

“The prosecution doesn’t suggest Mr McLean caused her death, plainly she could have died any time because of these conditions.

“Even though she died, obviously passing away around the time of her son’s actions, the prosecution’s case is an allegation of attempted murder.”

Ms Mittell said that McLean had called the NHS 111 number and had told the operator that his mother was 92 and that “she was dying and I helped her”.

He went on to say: “I had to kill her, I had to, she was suffocating in her own snot.”

Ms Mittell said that McLean went on to say that he had “put a cushion over her face”, and added: “I know that puts me as a murderer but f****** get on with it, do your own s***.”

He also told the operator: “I had to do it to stop her suffering.”

Ms Mittell said that McLean made further admissions to police as he was arrested.

When interviewed, he told police: “I thought I would send her off, I couldn’t live with myself watching her drown.

“I can’t remember where the cushion came from but I can remember putting it over her face and saying ‘I am sorry Mum’.”

Ms Mittell added that McLean said that he had acted out of “pure unadulterated love” for his mother and to “end her suffering”.

The prosecutor said that McLean had said that his mother was in “obvious pain” and had given out a “scream of anguish” and he had added: “I just couldn’t stand it.”

Ms Mittell said that McLean had recently recovered from Covid-19 at the time and had also drunk two or three “tiny” glasses of whisky with water.

She added that he had told police: “The fact I had Covid and a drink doesn’t make a blind bit of difference to how things turned out.”

The judge, Mrs Justice McGowan, told the jurors: “It is pure coincidence that there is a debate in the House of Commons today on assisted dying and assisted suicide.

“This is not what this case is about and this will have no impact on this case at all.”

McLean, of Morley Drive, Bishop’s Waltham, denies the charge and the trial continues.

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