Woman found guilty of bedridden Dad's murder in the UK

Carer suffocated her multiple sclerosis-suffering Father

Newstalk, carer, multiple sclerosis, murder, UK, Old Bailey

Picture by: Clara Molden / PA Wire/Press Association Images

A woman who was the sole carer of her bedridden father has been found guilty of murder after she suffocated the 67-year-old due to his "intolerable" multiple sclerosis.

A jury at the Old Bailey convicted 36-year-old Claire Darbyshire after almost 12 hours of deliberations.

The court heard Darbyshire killed her father Brian at the home they shared in Dagenham, east London, on 2 September last year.

The following night she was found walking near cliff tops in Kent in a distressed state, shivering and wet, and asking for help.

Accepted responsibility

During the trial, Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC told the court Darbyshire accepted responsibility for killing her father, but claimed it was part of a "suicide pact".

"In essence, she asserts that they had come to this agreement because his life had become intolerable due to multiple sclerosis and she would have nothing to live for once her father had gone," he told the court.

However, he told jurors that Mr Darbyshire had never expressed any suicidal thoughts before or complained about being in pain to nurses.

Mr Darbyshire developed MS in 1995 and saw his condition worsen over the ensuing years, eventually becoming bedridden.

His daughter became his sole carer in 2014.

A reclusive life

The court heard that Darbyshire and her father led a reclusive life, although she befriended the owner of a jewellery shop in Dagenham where she did volunteer work.

Over time the friend noticed that Darbyshire was getting "more and more stressed" and complained about having to look after her father.

On 10 September, eight days after Mr Darbyshire's death, police were called to the home after a neighbour raised the alarm.

Handwritten notes

Police discovered Mr Darbyshire's body in his bed with various handwritten notes scattered nearby.

The defendant wrote: "Dad couldn't go on any more being bedbound. He asked me to help him end it.

"Now I have to end it too as my action is claimed as a crime.

"If it was an animal then you would stop its suffering, but when it comes to a member of your own species you want to prolong the suffering as long as possible.

"We have the cheek to call ourselves civilised. Don't waste your time looking for me. My phone call to the district nurse was my last action."

Darbyshire's defence lawyer, Paul Keleher QC, argued during the trial that his client's actions amounted to assisting a suicide rather than committing an unlawful killing.

But in finding Darbyshire guilty of murder, the jury rejected the lesser offences of manslaughter or assisting a suicide.