Man who cut terminally-ill wife's throat in suicide pact gets suspended two-year jail term

21 July 2022, 15:49 | Updated: 21 July 2022, 16:32

Dyanne Mansfield was killed by her husband as part of a suicide pact
Dyanne Mansfield was killed by her husband as part of a suicide pact. Picture: Greater Manchester Police

By Emma Soteriou

A pensioner who cut his wife's throat as part of a suicide pact when she became terminally ill has been sentenced to a suspended two-year jail term for manslaughter.

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Graham Mansfield, 73, was cleared of murder earlier on Thursday after saying he killed cancer-stricken Dyanne Mansfield, 71, in an "act of love" months after she asked him to take her life "when things get bad for me".

The retired airport baggage handler told Manchester Crown Court they were the "saddest words he had ever heard" but agreed to his wife's request as long as he could kill himself too.

A jury of 10 men and two women took 90 minutes to find Mansfield not guilty of murder but instead guilty of manslaughter.

On the morning of March 24 last year, Mansfield was found lying in a pool of blood at the couple's home in Hale, Greater Manchester, while the body of his wife was slumped in a chair at the bottom of their garden.

Police attended the property after he rang 999 to tell the force that he had killed his wife of 40 years at 9pm the day before and had then attempted to kill himself.

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Mrs Mansfield bled heavily from a 6.3in (16cm) "gaping incised wound" and her windpipe had been severed.

Three knives and a lump hammer were found near her body.

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.

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 both wrists.

Police went on to speak 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, 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 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.