No5 Barristers’ Chambers defence sees client cleared of “mercy killing” charges

Wed, 18 Sep 2019

Mark Heywood QC and Martin Liddiard have successfully represented the defence of a pensioner charged with murder and manslaughter following the death of her 81-year-old husband.

Mavis Eccleston, 80, denied the charges and was found not guilty after a two-week trial at Stafford Crown Court.

The prosecution alleged that Mr Eccleston, who had been diagnosed with bowel cancer and had refused treatment, was unaware he was being given a “potentially lethal” overdose at their home in Raven Close, Huntington, near Cannock.

Mrs Ecclestone, who had also taken drugs but was given an antidote in hospital, told the court: “It was an understanding between us. He had to tell me what to do.”

The Crown further alleged the couple had not formed a “clear and common” agreement to end their own lives at the time, but Mrs Eccleston said she prepared the medication for the overdoses after he gave her instructions.

It was also claimed Mrs Eccleston made an admission two mental health nurses when she was in hospital.

During his closing speech, Mr Heywood told the court Mrs Eccleston had immediately disputed the nurses claims and said it was “fantasy” to suggest Mr Eccleston would not have asked his wife what medication he was taking.

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