No criminal charges for Leeds OAP with dementia after wife was killed

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A HUSBAND suspected to have killed his elderly wife at their home in Leeds will not face criminal charges as he is suffering from advanced dementia and a severe language impairment, an inquest heard.

Leeds Coroner’s Court heard 85-year-old Frank Gallagher was arrested on suspicion of murder after the body of his wife Betty, 87, was discovered in a bedroom at the home they shared in Cranmore Rise, Belle Isle, Leeds, last August 25.

Items of clothing had been tied around Mrs Gallagher’s neck and her hands had been bound together with the cable from a pair of portable earphones,

A post mortem revealed she died from pressure to the neck and an upper airway obstruction with a contributory cause of heart disease.

At the time of his wife’s death Mr Gallagher was suffering from dementia and language impairment expressive dysphasia – which leaves him unable to express himself verbally.

Det Sgt Niall Chambers of West Yorkshire Police told the court Mr Gallagher was initially arrested on suspicion of murder and taken into custody.

While he was being searched, police discovered he had stab wounds to his stomach and he was taken to Leeds General Infirmary for treatment.

The inquest heard Mr Gallagher’s injuries appeared to be self-inflicted and he had no recollection of what had happened that morning.

Det Sgt Chambers said Mr Gallagher continues to be detained in a secure hospital under the Mental Health Act.

The inquest was told the Crown Prosecution Service have opted not to take any further action against Mr Gallagher due to his mental state and the fact that his condition will deteriorate.

West Yorkshire Coroner David Hinchliff told the couple’s children Richard Gallagher and Janice Camponi: “The law allows me, if I thought it appropriate, to record a conclusion of unlawful killing.

“What concerns me is, even though I think it is obvious what has happened, your father is in this state because of a mental disorder.

“He has never had the opportunity to explain or give any account as to what happened, what might have motivated him to do that. So I think to record a conclusion of unlawful killing might be unfair on him.

“I would rather record a narrative conclusion that because of your father’s mental state in that he had expressive dysphasia, he was unable to effectively communicate. He also had severe dementia.

“It would have been hard for him to cope, as it would have been for your mother.”

Mr Hinchliff added: “You have been through a dreadful time and I hope that today will give you some closure.”

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