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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Matt Mathers and Chiara Giordano

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, also 90, in bed at their home in Orpington, Kent, on 22 September last year.

Afterwards, he called 999 and told the operator: "I don’t want to stop the bleeding. We want to die."

Edward Turpin, 90, was found guilty of wounding on the basis he was reckless as to the injuries his wife might sustain (Jonathan Brady/PA)

While refusing to take direction over the phone, he urged emergency services to "hurry up", the Old Bailey was told.

Turpin, who worked at Smithfield meat market in central London, 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.

Judge Alexia Durran handed him two years’ custody suspended for two years.

During the trial, jurors heard Ms Turpin, who has lost her eyesight, suffers diabetes and needs a catheter, had become increasingly dependent on her husband’s help before the attack.

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 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.”

Ms Turpin has been in a care home since the knife attack and is only able to speak to her husband over the telephone.

She 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.”

Prosecutor Alistair Richardson read out a statement prepared by a care worker on her behalf.

He said that while Ms Turpin’s injuries had healed well, the “psychological impact is huge” and “her whole life has been turned upside down”.

Judge Alexia Durran noted it had been a ‘difficult case’ (Jonathan Brady/PA)

He said: “Joan is very wary of strangers after being attacked with a knife and needs constant reassurance from people she knows.

“Joan had been extremely stressed and anxious as the trial approached.

“She is fully aware Edward broke the law and what has happened since is a consequence of his actions.”

Mr Richardson said Turpin’s culpability was high, having inflicted multiple injuries to his “extremely vulnerable” wife.

One of the wounds caused Mrs Turpin’s lung to collapse and it was “a matter of luck” it was not fatal, he said.

Mitigating, Simon Gledhill told the court Turpin had “overwhelming regret” about what happened.

The defence barrister said: “He has expressed on more than one occasion a strong desire to give his wife a hug and tell her he is sorry.”

Judge Durran, who previously noted it was a “difficult case”, said the couple had a happy marriage of nearly 70 years and Turpin was simply “too proud” to ask extended family for help to care for his wife.

Turpin was “overcome by the stress and the responsibility of looking after his wife” at the time of the attack, she said.

Judge Durran added: “Mr Turpin will never be allowed to live independently with his wife again.”

Addressing the defendant in his absence, she said: “You are a man of impeccable good character. You were a butcher in Smithfield Market for 30 years.

“Police investigations have supported Mrs Turpin’s assertion that you have never raised a hand to her in all your years of marriage.”

While she noted his “strong personal mitigation”, she said: “Your actions though cannot go without punishment. What happened that September morning should never have happened.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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