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Winsford man pleads guilty to manslaughter of wife
AN elderly man has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his wife at their home in Winsford, after a Judge agreed that the accused was suffering a mental illness at the time of the killing.
Douglas Bailey, 79, had originally pleaded not guilty to a charge of murdering 82-year-old Hazel Bailey at their home, Talybont, in Rilshaw Lane.
At Chester Crown Court on Thursday, September 26, Judge Elgan Edwards said ‘tragedy’ was the correct term to describe the case.
He agreed with prosecutors that the indictment should be altered to a charge of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
It was the third occasion that Bailey had been before court since Mrs Bailey’s body was discovered by police at the couple’s home on September 7 2012.
Bailey was originally due to stand trial for murder in February this year. His case was adjourned for a second time in April pending the completion of psychiatric reports, during which time he was remanded at HMP Altcourse, Fazakerley.
On Thursday, Bailey, dressed in black and looking gaunt, spoke only to say he understood the charge against him, and to plead guilty.
The circumstance of Mrs Bailey’s death did not emerge in court.
Prosecuting, Simon Medland QC said: “Sentencing will be an unusually complex process.
“There are a number of factors that come into play: What, if any risk does he posses now or in the future, how is he to be managed, and if there is no risk, how is he to be managed in the community?”
Recorder for Chester Crown Court, Elgin Edwards, said he ‘entirely agreed’ with the prosecution’s decision to change the indictment to one of manslaughter, and that it was a ‘very sensible idea’ to adjourn the case while considering the sentencing options.
Mohammed Khamisa, defending, said: “I agree with a little bit of reluctance because Mr Bailey has been in custody for a year.
“This is a case where there’s not a risk in the future. This will be a case where he will have to be managed.
“I would have been asking in my submission that he is released immediately, or in the very near future.”
Mr Khamisa said it would have to be decided whether the probation service, the courts or social services would manage ‘a 79-year-old man who is not in very good health’.
Judge Edwards said: “It’s a complex question. There are various considerations. Public safety and for how he’s looked after.
“It looks at first glance that it’s incomprehensible that it’s taken so long, but this is a result of the difficult nature of this case.
“Mrs Bailey was 82 and they were happily married for 50 years. Tragedy is by no means too strong a word.
“This is manslaughter, not murder and that needs to be said loud and clear. He was suffering from dementia at the time.”
Judge Edwards said that while ‘no court wants to send a man of 79 to a lengthy custodial sentence’, his decision on how Bailey should be managed would depend on the assessment of risk to the community.
He added: “It’s a very troubling, worrying and tragic case from all points of view.”
Bailey will be sentenced on October 29.