A judge’s statement that a retiree “acted out of love” allowed him to avoid jail time for manslaughter after he attempted suicide by cutting his wife’s throat.
Dyanne Mansfield, 71, who was suffering from cancer, reportedly urged her husband, Graham Mansfield, 73, to murder her when “things turn awful for me.”
The retired baggage handler at the airport described them as the “saddest words he had ever heard,” but he consented to his wife’s request if he could also commit himself.
In 90 minutes, a jury of 10 men and 2 women found Mansfield guilty of manslaughter but not of murder.
Sentencing Mansfield, Mr Justice Goose today said: “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.” On the morning of March 24 last year, Mansfield was found lying in a pool of blood at the couple’s home in Hale, Greater Manchester, while the body of Mrs Mansfield was slumped in a chair at the bottom of their garden.
Police and paramedics attended the semi-detached property in Canterbury Road after Mansfield dialled 999 and told the operator he had killed his wife of 40 years at 9pm the previous day before trying to kill himself.
Mrs. Mansfield’s windpipe was cut, and she was bleeding profusely from a 6.3 in. (16 cm) “gaping incised wound.”
Her corpse was discovered with three knives and a lump hammer nearby.
Two bricks on top of a plastic wallet carrying a message the defendant had written for the police were also found nearby.
The note stated, “We have chosen to take our own life,” and included information on how to reach his sister and where to find his house keys, according to the court’s account.
Mansfield also left his family a message, which was discovered in an envelope inside the home.
It read: “We are sorry to burden you with this but there is no other way. We made a pact that when it got too bad for Dyanne we would end it. “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.” Neither note was signed by Mrs Mansfield, the court heard. Mansfield previously said he killed his wife in an “act of love”.
In a victim personal statement read out to the court, Mrs Mansfield’s brother Peter Higson said: “I miss my sister terribly. Her death did not come as a shock to me because I knew she was very ill and in great pain. “However, the manner of her death did come as a shock. “Having said that I can understand the predicament that Graham found himself in. I found myself in a similar situation when my own wife died of cancer. “I don’t hold any malice against Graham and will continue to value his friendship in future.
“I would be quite upset if Graham received an immediate prison term. Graham has certainly endured enough pain, and I don’t think he’ll ever fully recover.
Richard Orme, the defense attorney, argued against an immediate jail sentence by saying: “The argument is that for the previous two years since Dyanne Mansfield’s fatal diagnosis in 2020, Graham Mansfield has suffered a living nightmare.
He claims that the only thing that has brought him comfort and calm since the diagnosis has been his garden, thus he is afraid of being imprisoned in a small space.
Additionally, he has been frequently strolling across the countryside.
Mansfield was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder and later underwent surgery for wounds to his neck and both wrists. Police went on to speak to the couple’s family, friends and neighbours, who spoke favourably about the defendant and his “unswerving devotion” to his wife.
Some even expressed no surprise at the suggestion that he had killed her as part of a suicide pact, jurors heard. Mansfield, who had been on bail, had denied murder. He also pleaded not guilty to an alternative count of manslaughter on the grounds that his actions were “undertaken through duress of circumstances”.
Summing up the case, the judge told the jury that if Mansfield was to be cleared of murder they would have to be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that there was a suicide pact and he made a genuine attempt to kill himself.
However sympathetic you may feel about it, acting under pressure of circumstances does not make it legal, he continued, adding that even if they may believe his motives were driven by sympathy for his wife who was in suffering.
The court stated that the jury should analyze all of the evidence and decide whether or not the suicide pact had been proven. It was not the Crown’s contention that there was no suicide agreement.