Pensioner Graham Mansfield who cut wife's throat in failed suicide pact cleared of murder

·4-min read

A pensioner who cut his dying wife's throat in a failed suicide pact has walked free after being cleared of her murder.

Graham Mansfield killed his wife Dyanne, 71, who was suffering from cancer, after she begged him to take her life "when things get bad".

A judge said Mansfield "acted out of love" and had been under "immense emotional pressure" when his wife of 40 years died in "exceptional circumstances".

Mansfield, 73, was given a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years, after he was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter.

The retired baggage handler told Manchester Crown Court that his wife's words were the "saddest he had ever heard" but agreed to her request - so long as he could take his own life.

Mansfield dialled 999 at 9pm on 23 March last year and informed the operator he had killed his wife.

The police arrived at the couple's home in Hale, Greater Manchester, to the "extraordinary scene" of Mrs Mansfield slumped in a chair at the bottom of the garden.

Mansfield was found in a pool of blood at the semi-detached property.

The pair had "the perfect relationship and wanted to remain together for the rest of their lives", the court was told.

A note to their family, left on the dining room table, read: "We are sorry to burden you with this but there is no other way.

"When Dyanne was diagnosed with cancer, we made a pact. I couldn't bear to live without Dyanne and as the months progressed and as things got worse, it only reinforced our decision that the time has arrived.

"We hope you all understand.

"Don't get too upset. We have had a wonderful and happy life together."

Speaking outside the court, Mansfield said his wife would be "fuming" he had a criminal conviction - and called for the laws regarding euthanasia and terminal illness to change.

"No one should have to go through what we went through," he said.

"Unfortunately today my wife is not here. She shouldn't have had to die in such barbaric circumstances, that's what we had to do."

The suicide pact was made on the first day of Mrs Mansfield's diagnosis, in September 2020.

Mansfield told police his life had been "turned upside down" as friends spoke of his "unswerving devotion" to her.

He was denied both murder and manslaughter but did not dispute that he intended to kill his wife.

However, he said his reason for doing so served as a defence.

A jury of 10 men and two women took 90 minutes to clear Mansfield of murder.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Goose told him: "The circumstances of this case are a tragedy for you and are exceptional in the experiences of this court.

"You were under immense emotional pressure.

"I am entirely satisfied that you acted out of love for your wife."

Wonderful life turned into a nightmare

Mrs Mansfield, an import and export clerk, was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 1999 which led to a kidney being removed in 2004.

Years of good health followed, with the couple - who married in Las Vegas in 1980 - enjoying an active retirement including cycling, gardening and walking.

However, she developed a tickly cough ahead of the COVID lockdown in March 2020 and six months later a scan found she had lung cancer, which had spread to her lymph nodes.

They were left "shell-shocked" to learn in October that she had two years at most to live.

"That was basically when our nightmare began," he revealed.

"Dyanne said to me, 'Graham, this is the best I am ever going to be now'," Mansfield told the court.

"'When things get bad for me, will you kill me?'

"It was the saddest words I had ever heard.

"I said, 'Dyanne, I will. On one condition. That I go with you'.

Under cross examination, Mansfield said: "When we planned a suicide pact we didn't think we were doing anything wrong.

"We didn't need anybody's permission to say we have had enough of this world and we want to leave it."

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK.

In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.

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