Retired butcher, Edward Turpin, guilty of stabbing blind wife after he could 'no longer cope' with her care

·4-min read

A 90-year-old man has been found guilty of stabbing his blind and sick wife to "quieten her down" after he struggled to cope with her care.

Edward Turpin told the jury he grabbed a carving knife from the kitchen and injured his wife after she started screaming at night as she tried to sleep.

Turpin then turned the knife on himself before phoning 999, his trial at the Old Bailey heard.

The retired butcher was accused of trying to kill Joan Turpin, also 90, during the attack at their home in Orpington, Kent, on 22 September 2021.

He was cleared of attempted murder and an alternative charge of wounding Mrs Turpin with intent.

However, the jury found him guilty of a further lesser alternative charge of wounding on the basis he was reckless as to the injuries she might sustain.

The couple had been happily married for 60 years, but Turpin began to feel like he could "no longer cope" when he had to care for her, the court heard.

Mrs Turpin, who is blind, suffers diabetes and needs a catheter, had become increasingly dependent on her husband.

Turpin told the 999 call operator immediately after the attack: "I don't want to stop the bleeding. We want to die."

He was said to have added: "She's been ill, she's come home, all she's done is got on my nerves. I've just burst. I've just gone."

Turpin, who spent years working in Smithfield meat market in central London, said while giving evidence that the "last thing" he wanted was to harm his wife.

He rejected the suggestion he had been implying during the 999 call the couple were taking part in a suicide pact, telling jurors: "We had 60 good years and all I want to do is, you know, carry on life."

Mrs Turpin's injuries have healed but the psychological impact she suffered was great, the court heard.

However, the couple are still married and Turpin said he phones his wife at the care home where she now lives twice a day.

Mrs Turpin defended her husband's record as a "wonderful man" who never "laid one finger" on her prior to the stabbing.

In a video interview after the attack, she said: "It's a long time to be married to someone to fall out of love with.

"Adore him and he adores me."

Turpin became unwell after giving evidence at his trial and was not present in court when the jury returned its verdict on Tuesday.

He had been admitted to hospital and was waiting to see a consultant, the court was told.

Judge Alexia Durran noted it had been a "difficult case" as she adjourned sentencing to a date to be fixed.

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Prosecutor Alistair Richardson had previously told jurors to put aside emotion and consider the evidence.

He said: "There is no doubt that this is an incredibly sad case - that Joan Turpin loves her husband and that she is loyal to him.

"But there is also no doubt that on 22 September last year, the defendant left their bedroom, gave in to his frustrations, went downstairs into the kitchen, selected a knife of considerable size and came back upstairs and stabbed Joan Turpin repeatedly, including to the area by her heart."

"A butcher for many, many years, he knows a thing or two about knives," the prosecutor said.

But defence barrister Simon Gledhill asked jurors to clear his client of attempted murder because he was too "bewildered" to think clearly during the attack.

Mr Gledhill also said Turpin had been acting recklessly but "no more than recklessly", and subsequently was not guilty of an alternative charge of section 18 wounding with intent.

"I suggest to you in those early hours at 1.30 in the morning, his mind and his thinking became so clearly muddled, so irrational and so bewildered, that he did what in every other minute of his life he would clearly consider to be unthinkable and hurt his wife," he said.