Leeds dementia sufferer died hours after attack by husband

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A DEMENTIA sufferer died hours after being assaulted by her husband of 36-years at their home in Leeds, a court heard.

Trevor Milner, 58, was arrested for murder and spent over two years on bail over the death over his partner Hilary after he admitted to police he had punched her in the legs and stomach after he lost his temper with her.

Leeds Crown Court heard Milner told officers he had “whacked” her hard enough to make a wince and had delivered the blows “to make a point” for making a mess on the bathroom floor.

The court heard Milner called emergency services around 5am on November 1, 2012, to say that his wife had a swelling and was struggling to breathe.

She was taken to St James’s hospital by ambulance by died hours later.

The cause of death was described as “left-sided chest trauma” which resulted in broken ribs and damage to her lungs.

Neighbours later told police they heard shouting and arguing coming from the property at the time of the incident.

Milner told police he had hit his wife after losing his temper with her while drunk.

He said she had fallen back into the bath after the attack and he had left her there until he realised she was seriously injured. He denied caused the rib injuries.

Prosecutor Michael Collins said: “He was arrested for murder. In the process it quickly became clear that if any homicide charge was to follow it would be one of manslaughter.

“There then followed a very extensive period of time in which a number of medical expert reports were gained.

“The ultimate conclusion of that exercise was that the experts could not conclude the possibility that she, having been in the bath, may have made an attempt to get out of the bath...and that could have been a possible cause, perhaps a slip on the side of the bath.”

Milner, of Station Crescent, Armley, was eventually charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm. He pleaded guilty and was given a four month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

Milner also admitted to police that he has assaulted his wife on previous occasions out of frustration.

Mrs Milner had been diagnosed with the condition in 2010 and her husband had given up his work to be her carer.

At the time of her death she was unable to hold a conversation and was doubly incontinent.

Adam Birkby, mitigating, said Milner and his wife had become isolated as he took on the responsibility for being her sole carer and did not accept any outside help.

He said: “The fact of the matter is that he was a primary carer and bore the burden of the day-to-day responsibility in looking after his wife but the frustration boiled over.”

“He is a man who is clearly suffering from the fact that he hasn’t really come to terms with the circumstances of the fact of her death and it will take him years to do that.”

Mr Birkby said Milner had now been “disowned” by the couple’s two children over the death.

Recorder Keith Miller said: “At first...I thought that perhaps you had been let down by the social services, medical services and the NHS, because in every case of dementia such as this it is frankly impossible for one person to manage on his own.

He added: “The one message that should go out from this court today is that if anybody reads any report of this case and they are themselves in difficulty and find it had to care for a relative - they really must seek help from social services and a doctor.

“No matter what the burden was, in our society we simply cannot tolerate a situation where someone as vulnerable as your wife was is struck, even if that person is at the end of his tether.

“Therefore, while your reaction was understandable, it is not wholly excusable. It is a very serious matter to assault anybody, but particularly anybody who was in a position that she was, being totally unable to respond.

“To strike any person with the degree of disability that your wife had cannot simply be brushed over.”