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Devoted OAP killed sick wife, court told

PUBLISHED: 15:15 10 September 2008 | UPDATED: 09:37 12 August 2010

A RETIRED civil servant has admitted the mercy killing of his seriously ill wife in hospital, writes Kate Mead.  Sidney Eric Norton, 86, who is currently being cared for at the Royal Bethlehem Hospital, Beckenham, smothered 84- year-old Betty Norton with

A RETIRED civil servant has admitted the mercy killing of his seriously ill wife in hospital, writes Kate Mead.

Sidney Eric Norton, 86, who is currently being cared for at the Royal Bethlehem Hospital, Beckenham, smothered 84- year-old Betty Norton with a pillow as she lay in bed.

She had been taken to University Hospital Lewisham hospital a few days earlier with stomach pain but also suffered from dementia and the effects of a stroke. Norton, her sole carer, feared he would soon be unable to look after his beloved wife, the Old Bailey was told.

The pensioner was charged with murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

Prosecutor Sarah Whitehouse said the Crown had decided to accept the plea after psychiatrists concluded his judgement had been impaired by the stress of his situation. She added: "The two of them had been a devoted couple for 57 years but at the time he killed her she was housebound, suffering from a stroke, dementia and also had been ill with stomach pains."

Norton was given conditional bail until October 10 when he will be sentenced after a report is prepared by the Probation Service. Mrs Norton was found dead on November 2 last year, four days after she was admitted to hospital on October 30.

The couple have one son, Alan, and lived in lived in the same house in St Donatts Road, New Cross, for most of their married lives.

ktneditorial@archant.co.uk

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