Pensioner, 73, who ‘cut the throat of his cancer-stricken wife, 71, before trying to take his own life in failed suicide pact’ goes on trial for her murder
- Graham Mansfield killed his wife, Dyanne Mansfield, at their Manchester home
- The 73-year-old told police he killed her and then wanted to take his own life
- He claims they made a suicide pact after Dyanne was diagnosed with cancer
- The pensioner is on trial accused of murder after he cut her throat in March 2021
A pensioner who cut the throat of his cancer-stricken wife before trying to take his own life in a failed suicide pact has gone on trial accused of murdering her.
Graham Mansfield, 73, admitted in a phone call to 999 that he had killed his wife of more than 40 years, Dyanne Mansfield, as she battled cancer in March, last year.
He told the operator he had also tried to take his own life but it had ‘all gone wrong’, with police later finding him seriously injured at their home in Greater Manchester.
The pensioner, who has since recovered from his injuries, has now gone on trial at Manchester Crown Court accused of murdering the 71-year-old, a charge he denies.
He claims his actions ‘were livingly undertaken’ to prevent his wife going through further suffering, with Mrs Mansfield battling multiple tumours, including lung cancer, at the time of her death.
A jury at the court was told police went to the couple’s home on March 24 after the defendant rang 999 to say he had killed his wife the around 9pm the night before, and had failed to take his own life.
Dyanne Mansfield (pictured) died after her husband of more than 40 years, Graham Mansfield, cut her throat in March, last year
Graham Mansfield (pictured here arriving at Manchester Crown Court) claimed he had tried to take his own life after killing his wife
On arrival police found Dyanne’s body in the garden looking out on fields behind the house, with the court hearing three knives and lump hammer were seen on the ground.
Th defendant, who later told a psychiatrist he was ‘sad’ his wife had died but was ‘relieved’ she had ‘got her wish’, was found seriously injured in the kitchen.
Opening the case, prosecutor David Temkin QC said: ‘He explained what he had done was in pursuance of a “pact” made with his wife, who had been suffering from cancer.’
He said Mansfield, who denies murder and manslaughter, does not dispute he intended to kill his wife but claims his reason for doing so provides him with a defence.
Mrs Mansfield had bled heavily from a 16cm ‘gaping incised wound’ and her windpipe had been severed.
Also discovered nearby were two bricks on top of a plastic wallet containing a note written by the defendant for the police.
‘We have decided to take our own lives’, it said, giving instructions on where to find his house keys and how to contact his sister, the court heard.
Police say Mrs Mansfield’s body was found in the garden at their home in Hale, Greater Manchester. Pictured are police and forensics officers outside the couple’s house in March last year
Another note written by the defendant, addressed to his family, was found in an envelope on the dining room table.
It read: ‘We are sorry to burden you with this but there is no other way. When Dyanne was diagnosed with cancer, we made a pact.
‘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.’
Mansfield was arrested on suspicion of murder at the scene and was captured on police body-worn cameras explaining how he killed his wife and then tried to kill himself in the garden and then in the house.
Mr Temkin said: ‘He repeatedly expressed frustration at having failed to kill himself. He said that he just wanted to die.’
The defendant was taken for surgery at Manchester Royal Infirmary, where he said he and his wife made the suicide pact on the first day of her diagnosis in September 2020.
The day after his arrest, Mansfield told a psychiatrist he was adamant he would not try to kill himself again.
Mr Temkin said: ‘He added, “Dyanne wouldn’t want me to do that”. He said he felt sad his wife was no longer alive but also said he was relieved she had got her wish.’
When interviewed by police, Mansfield said life had been ‘turned upside down’ in the preceding six months.
The prosecutor said: ‘He said that he and his wife had a perfect relationship and wanted to remain together for the rest of their lives.
‘This stable situation changed when his wife was diagnosed with cancer.
Graham Mansfield told police their lives had been ‘turned upside down’ by her cancer diagnosis. Pictured are police forensic officers outside the Mansfield’s home in Hale in March, last year.
‘The disease spread rapidly and quickly reached stage four.
‘He said that the medics were unable to do anything for his wife.’
Mansfield searched the internet for ways to end life, Mr Temkin said, with the pair settling on the garden as the ‘venue’ at the suggestion of Mrs Mansfield.
Police went on to speak to the couple’s family, their friends and neighbours who spoke favourably about the defendant.
Mr Temkin said: ‘Some spoke of the serious deterioration in the condition of Dyanne Mansfield. All of them spoke about the defendant’s unswerving devotion to her.
‘It is fair to say some of those witnesses expressed no surprise at the suggestion that the defendant had acted in accordance with a genuine suicide pact.’
Mrs Mansfield had been suffering with multiple cancers and had been undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancer, medical records showed.
Chemotherapy was put on hold in mid-March when she lost weight, had difficulty in swallowing and had a visible swelling on the side of her neck.
The defendant is on trial at Manchester Crown Court (pictured), where he denies charges of murder and manslaughter
A scan was due to take place on March 19 to see if the lump in her neck could be treated but Mrs Mansfield did not attend the appointment.
Mr Temkin told the jury: ‘It is understood the defendant says he is not guilty of murder because at all relevant times he says he was acting pursuant to a genuine suicide pact.
‘The defence has to satisfy you on the balance of probabilities that a genuine suicide pact existed.’
He said Mansfield had also pleaded not guilty to the alternative count of manslaughter because he maintains ‘his actions were lovingly undertaken through duress of circumstances or necessity for the purpose of avoiding any further severe pain and suffering’.
The prosecutor said an ‘important feature’ of the case is there is no record of Mrs Mansfield’s wishes.
He said: ‘There is no document, no reported conversation to demonstrate her awareness of, and agreement to, any suicide pact.’
The trial continues today.