Retired butcher who stabbed blind wife of 60 years to ‘quieten her down’ spared jail

A 90-year-old retired butcher who stabbed his blind and ailing wife to “quieten her down” has been spared jail.

Edward Turpin got a carving knife from the kitchen and attacked Joan Turpin in bed at their home in Orpington, Kent, on 22 September last year.

Turpin was cleared of attempted murder and an alternative charge of wounding his wife of 60 years with intent.

However, a jury found him guilty of a lesser alternative charge of wounding on the basis he was reckless as to the injuries she might sustain.

On Wednesday, he was sentenced in his absence at the Old Bailey after being admitted to hospital with a chest infection and pneumonia.

The court heard how Turpin got a carving knife from the kitchen and injured his wife in bed, but said it was to “quieten her down” after she started screaming at night while trying to sleep.

At a previous hearing, Judge Alexia Durran noted it had been a “difficult case” as she adjourned sentencing to a later date.

She told the jury: “Mr Turpin has been unwell since he concluded his evidence last week. We will arrange a time for him to come to this court and I will sentence Mr Turpin for wounding.”

The court was told Turpin had been admitted to hospital and was waiting to see a consultant. He had been on bail on the condition of limited contact with his wife who is in a care home.

The court heard that while her injuries had healed, the psychological impact had been great.

Jurors had heard that Ms Turpin, who has lost her eyesight, suffers diabetes and needs a catheter, had become increasingly dependent on her husband’s help.

Turpin felt he could “no longer cope” and, at about 1.30am, attacked his wife in their bed before turning the knife on himself, the court heard.

He made a 999 call immediately after the attack and told the operator: “I don’t want to stop the bleeding. We want to die.” He was said to have added: “She’s been ill, she’s come home, all she’s done is got on my nerves. I’ve just burst. I’ve just gone.”

Giving evidence, Turpin, who spent years working in Smithfield meat market in central London, said the “last thing” he wanted was to harm his wife.

He rejected the suggestion he had been implying the couple were taking part in a suicide pact, telling jurors: “We had 60 good years and all I want to do is, you know, carry on life.”

The couple are still married and Turpin phones his wife at the care home, where she now lives, twice a day, he said.

Ms Turpin defended her husband’s record as a “wonderful man” who never “laid one finger” on her prior to the incident.

In a video interview after the attack, she said: “It’s a long time to be married to someone to fall out of love with.

“I adore him and he adores me.”

Judge Alexia Durran noted it had been a ‘difficult case’

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