A TERMINALLY ill wife promised her husband “I won’t make a noise” before he slit her throat in a failed suicide pact.
Graham Mansfield, 73, walked free from court after a judge ruled he acted “out of love” in taking the life of cancer-stricken Dyanne Mansfield, 71.
In an interview with Manchester Evening News at his home in Hale, Greater Manchester, Mr Mansfield said his wife was told she had stage four lung cancer in October 2020, just weeks after they’d celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary.
When they returned home from the hospital, Mr Mansfield said the suicide pact was first raised.
Mrs Mansfield asked him if he would be willing to kill her if things got “too bad”.
He agreed “on one condition” – that he “would have to go with her”.
On the morning of March 24 last year, Mr Mansfield was found lying in a pool of blood at the couple’s home, while his wife’s body was slumped in a chair at the bottom of the garden.
Their last night together was spent “crying and telling each other how much we loved one another”.
And at around 5pm the next day Mrs Mansfield had a glass of red wine, while Mr Mansfield had a can of lager and a whisky and lemonade.
He asked “Are you ready?” to which his wife replied “Yes, I won’t make a noise”.
He then walked behind the chair she was sat in and slit her throat.
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Police and paramedics rushed to the property 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.
On Thursday, a jury of ten men and two women took 90 minutes to find Mansfield not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.
Mansfield was sentenced to two years in jail, suspended for two years.
Sentencing him, Mr Justice Goose told the defendant: “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.”
Outside court, an emotional Mansfield said his wife would be “fuming” that he has a criminal conviction.
He said: “The law needs to change. Nobody should have to go through what we went through.
Unfortunately today my wife is not here. She shouldn’t have had to die in such barbaric circumstances, that’s what we had to do.
“Unfortunately today my wife is not here. She shouldn’t have had to die in such barbaric circumstances, that’s what we had to do.
“As far as I’m concerned as soon as we can get some form of euthanasia with terminal illness, in our case, as a priority, the sooner that happens the better this country will be.”
He added: “Dyanne would be fuming now that I have got a conviction for doing something that she asked us to do. That I couldn’t live without her.”
His solicitor Rachel Fletcher, of law firm Slater Heelis, said: “I am pleased this ordeal is over for Graham. He should never have been charged and in the future he probably wouldn’t have been.
“The law in this country is brutal and needs to catch up with other countries throughout the world.”
Sarah Wootton, chief executive of campaign organisation Dignity in Dying, said current laws “force loving family members to become criminals” and said an assisted dying law “would include upfront safeguards to better protect people”.
‘WE MADE A PACT’
Mrs Mansfield had bled heavily from a 6.3in (16cm) “gaping incised wound”.
Two bricks on top of a plastic wallet containing a note written by the defendant for the police were found nearby.
“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.
Another note written by Mansfield, addressed to his family, was found in an envelope in the house.
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 was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder and later underwent surgery for wounds to his neck and wrists.
Police spoke 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.
He added that they may think his intentions were motivated by compassion for his wife, who was in pain, but acting through duress of circumstances did not make it lawful, “however sympathetic you may feel about it”.
The judge said it was not the Crown’s case that there was no suicide pact but instead it was to ask the jury to consider all the evidence and ask whether it had been proved.
You’re Not Alone
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
It doesn’t discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It’s the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet it’s rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You’re Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let’s all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You’re Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
- CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
- Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
- Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
- Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
- Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
- Movember, www.uk.movember.com
- Anxiety UK www.anxietyuk.org.uk, 03444 775 774 Monday-Friday 9.30am-10pm, Saturday/Sunday 10am-8pm