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Greater Manchester man found guilty of killing his terminally ill wife

|News, Violent crime

A man who took the life of his terminally ill wife has been found guilty of killing her.

The jury found that Graham Mansfield, 73, had committed a criminal offence when he killed his wife of over 40 years, Dyanne Mansfield, 71, in the garden of their home in Hale, Greater Manchester in March 2021.

The court heard that Mrs Mansfield had been ill for some time and was suffering from cancer. However, a district nurse who visited her the the day before she died was of the view she had not reached the ‘point of her last days’.

Police were called to the address on Canterbury Road in Hale by Mansfield himself on 24 March last year around 9.15am. Mansfield told officers that he had killed his wife as part of a suicide pact, which they had made on the first day of her diagnosis.

Mansfield was found in the kitchen with self-inflicted injures to his neck and wrists. He was taken to Manchester Royal infirmary where he underwent surgery.

The pathologist later determined that the cause of Dyanne Mansfield’s death was the compression of the airway and blood loss as a result of a knife wound to her neck.

How does the CPS decide if someone conducting a ‘mercy-killing’ should be prosecuted?

The CPS is currently in the middle of a public consultation into the public interest factors prosecutors should consider when deciding whether or not to charge a suspect with murder or manslaughter, where the suspect believes they were acting wholly out of compassion for the deceased.

The proposed update to the legal guidance on murder and manslaughter does not decriminalise any offences, and a suspect is not immune from prosecution if they claim it was a ‘mercy killing’ or failed suicide pact. The guidance does not touch on ‘assisted dying’ or other similar scenarios which are treated separately in law.

The draft guidance sets out 11 factors that tend to favour a prosecution, including:

•    if the victim was under 18;
•    the victim lacked mental capacity to make an informed decision to end their life;
•    the suspect had a history of violence or abuse against the victim;
•    the suspect received a financial reward; or
•    the suspect had a duty of care such as a doctor or nurse.

There are six factors where a prosecution would be less likely, including:

•    if the victim had reached a voluntary, settled and informed decision to end their life;
•    the suspect was wholly motivated by compassion;
•    the suspect attempted to take their own life at the same time as part of a suicide pact; or
•    the suspect reported the death to the police and fully assisted the authorities.
Although not an exhaustive list these factors and others will be considered when applying the public interest test in cases where prosecutors are satisfied there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction. It is quite possible that one factor alone may outweigh several other factors which tend in the opposite direction.

Prosecutors and investigators should make sure that they pursue all reasonable lines of enquiry in order to obtain, wherever possible, independent verification of the suspect's account. If there is insufficient evidence to support the suspect’s account about the circumstances of death and the state of mind of the victim, which is relevant to a particular factor, then prosecutors should conclude that there is insufficient information to support that factor.

The consultation closed in April and an update on the guidance is expected later this year.

He told officers in interview that Dyanne had reached a point where she was so ill, she told him she just wanted to die. He killed his wife in the garden, by cutting her throat with a Stanley knife and then attempted to take his own life, by cutting this throat and wrists and later by swallowing pills.

He killed his wife in the garden, by cutting her throat with a Stanley knife and then attempted to take his own life, by cutting this throat and wrists and later by swallowing pills.

Mansfield accepted from the outset that he had killed his wife but claimed that there was a genuine suicide pact, and therefore he was not guilty of murder. He also pleaded not guilty to the alternative of manslaughter as he claimed his actions were lovingly taken through duress of circumstances, for the purpose of avoiding any further severe pain or suffering. The judge ruled that this had been a ‘mercy killing’ and that the potential defence to manslaughter wasn’t available to the jury.

The prosecution case was that Mansfield had unlawfully killed his wife.  He had researched on the internet how to end life.  He had also cancelled their regular milk and paper deliveries on 23 March and he had written letters to the police and his sister.  The evidence that Dyanne was party to the suicide pact came from Mansfield in interview and the evidence he gave at court.

The jury having heard all the evidence, agreed with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that Mansfield was guilty manslaughter.

He was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court this afternoon to two years in prison, suspended for two years.

Martin Goldman, CCP for CPS North West said: “This was a tragic case where Dyanne Mansfield lost her life at the hands of her husband.

“Failed suicide pacts are an emotive subject. As prosecutors we carefully weighed the evidence in this case, including the lack of any evidence to confirm Dyanne Mansfield’s wishes, and using our legal guidance determined that a prosecution was in the public interest.

“The CPS produced evidence at court in form of witness testimony, forensic evidence and exhibits to show the planning involved in the death of Dyanne Mansfield. Mansfield failed to convince the jury that this had been a lawful killing.”


Notes to editors

Graham Mansfield: DOB: [31/08/1948]

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