Retired police officer with dementia accused of killing wife

Martin Evans
A trial of fact is being heard into the tragic case of Mr and Mrs Addison - PA Archive/PA Images

A retired police officer, who refused help to care for his dementia stricken wife, suffocated her in the bedroom of their bungalow, a court has heard.

But Douglas Addison, 88, is not in the dock to answer the charges, because he too is suffering from dementia and has been deemed too ill to stand trial.

Instead a jury at Exeter Crown Court is hearing a trial of facts to determine if Mr Addison committed the acts of which he is accused.

Anna Vigers QC, prosecuting, said Mr Addison had rejected help for his frail wife, Avis, and turned away carers.

The court heard the couple had been married for decades and walked around their village holdings hands.

Mr Addison was described as a proud man who was smartly dressed, and had a military like appearance.

Neighbour, Elizabeth Holland, a retired GP surgery practice nurse, described Mr and Mrs Addison as a "private couple" and said she had tried to get them some help, but he had been adamant it was not necessary.

Miss Vigers said Mr Addison had been “overwhelmed with appalling consequences for his wife”.

"It all simply became too much," she told the jury.

Miss Vigers said 88-year-old Mrs Addison, known as Mary, was found suffocated in the bedroom of their bungalow in St Merryn, North Cornwall, in February.

She went on: "Mr Addison is not here because he is not well. Sadly he is suffering now from dementia. This case is a tragic one."

She said the couple were church goers who went to coffee mornings in their village.

But as they got older they began to struggle and Mrs Addison was less capable of coping for herself, said the prosecutor.

"Mr Addison made it clear he was not interested in such help," she explained.

Mr Addison is not here because he is not well. Sadly he is suffering now from dementia. This case is a tragic one

The court heard that when the couple’s GP visited them at home he had found Mr Addison “defensive and aggressive” towards his wife.

In the weeks before her death, medical staff had noticed bruising to her head, chest and had feared Mrs Addison had suffered some abuse of neglect, the court heard.

On the day of her death her GP and an adult carer had called at the bungalow and Mr Addison answered the door and said: "I was thinking about calling you. She is on the floor and she can't get up."

The court head that the lifeless pensioner was propped against a radiator and had bruising on her face, neck and forearms.

A post mortem examination recorded the main cause of death as suffocation, but she had also suffered multiple blunt force trauma.

Mr Addison has denied murder and the trial of facts continues.