OAP spared jail over wife's death

Friday 18 March 2011 14:42 GMT

A frail 84-year-old who killed his ailing wife after becoming terrified that she would be taken into a care home wept as he was spared jail today.

Edward Chopping, a retired Ford worker, hanged wife Joan at their home in East Ham, east London, last May.

He then tried to take an overdose and hang himself, but the rope broke.

Emergency services discovered his wife's dead body the next morning while Chopping was sitting on a stool sobbing.

Afterwards he said: "I loved her so much and could not see her suffer any more. I know it was wrong but I'm not sorry I done it. She's in a better place now."

The Old Bailey heard that 84-year-old Mrs Chopping's health declined when she suffered a stroke and her husband of 67 years had struggled to look after her.

During a recent hospital stay she was unable to recognise him, or their daughter.

David Markham, prosecuting, said: "It is clear that the defendant felt that her care was his responsibility alone, and according to his daughter he required a lot of persuasion to accept help.

"He was terrified of his wife being taken into a care home away from him."

Chopping pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was given a nine-month prison term suspended for a year by Judge Brian Barker, the Common Serjeant of London.

The elderly defendant, who was allowed to sit in the well of the court, wept as the judge passed sentence in what he called a "tragic case".

Chopping, who now lives in a residential home, left court with the aid of a walking frame and supported by relatives.

The judge told him: "It was your determination to manage and look after your wife that was your failing."

Miranda Moore QC, defending, said: "He and Joan had been together through thick and thin. He wanted to care for her. This was a man in turmoil."

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