Graham Mansfield and his wife Dyanne had a “wonderful life” together until doctors told her she was terminally ill with cancer, his murder trial heard.
The 73-year-old retired baggage handler at Manchester Airport slit her throat at the bottom of their sprawling, well-kept garden in Hale, Greater Manchester, in March last year and then tried to kill himself.
He said they had agreed to a suicide pact when “things got bad” for Mrs Mansfield.
The 71-year-old import/export clerk had been diagnosed with bladder cancer in 1999 which led to the removal of a kidney in 2004.
Years of uninterrupted good health followed, Manchester Crown Court heard, as the couple enjoyed an active retirement of cycling, walking and gardening.
Giving evidence, Mansfield said 2020 was the “start of another fantastic year” with three holidays booked and a 40th wedding anniversary trip planned to the US.
But ahead of the Covid-19 lockdown his wife developed a “tickly cough”.
In September that year, a doctor told her a scan had showed she had lung cancer and it had spread to her lymph nodes.
A tearful Mansfield said: “That was basically when our nightmare began.”
He said the couple were “shell-shocked” when they were told in October that she had two years at most to live.
He told the court: “Dyanne said to me, ‘Graham, this is the best I am ever going to be now.
“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’.
“She said, ‘There is nothing wrong with you, there is no reason’. I said, ‘Dyanne, I can’t live without you’.”
He said his wife started chemotherapy for her lung cancer but she was ill the next day and visible deterioration followed.
They later agreed to stop the chemotherapy, which left her with months to live.
He said his wife did not want to go to hospital and feared they would be kept apart because of Covid-19 regulations.
Mansfield told the jury: “We wanted something that was certain and quick.
“I said, ‘The only thing I can think of is you sit in the chair, I have seen it in the films, and I’m behind you and I just do it’.
“She said ‘OK’.”
He said his wife suggested the back garden was the best location.
“I said, ‘That’s a good idea’.
“It’s a place we love, it’s secluded.”
Ahead of the fateful day Mansfield cancelled the couple’s newspaper and milk deliveries and made sure the birdfeed box in the garden was brimming over.
He said: “We weren’t going to be there.
“It’s not the birds’ fault, is it?”
David Temkin QC, prosecuting, asked him: “Do you agree that it was an extreme act of violence on a person you adored?”
Mansfield said: “It was an act of love.
“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.”
A day after he was arrested he told a psychiatrist he no longer had any suicidal thoughts or intentions.
He told the court: ”I didn’t want to live but I didn’t want to put family and friends through another crisis.”
Mansfield walked free from court after being handed a suspended jail sentence following his conviction on the lesser charge of manslaughter.