Yorkshire 'mercy killing' husband freed

A pensioner who smothered his 75-year-old wife in a "mercy killing" was freed from a two-year prison sentence today.

George Webb, 73, from Sheffield, was cleared in December of murdering his wife Beryl but found guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

At the Court of Appeal today, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, sitting in London with Mr Justice Eady and Mr Justice Simon, allowed his appeal against sentence.

The judges replaced the two-year prison term imposed at Sheffield Crown Court with a suspended 12-month sentence.

Lord Judge, who described it as a "tragic case", said the court did not believe "in the unusual and particular circumstances" that the "principle of the sanctity of human life would be undermined" by the reduction in his sentence, which will be accompanied by a supervision order.

He added that it would mean "that this lonely old man may receive the help that he will need to come to terms with the disaster that has overtaken him".

Webb, who has spent 90 days in custody - the equivalent of a six month sentence - was not present for the ruling.

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