A 90-year-old man who repeatedly stabbed his blind and frail wife while she slept because he could not cope with caring for her has been spared jail.
Retired butcher Edward Turpin got a carving knife from the kitchen and attacked Joan Turpin in bed at their home in Orpington, Kent, on September 22 last year.
She suffered several wounds, with one of the blows causing her lung to collapse, and the Old Bailey heard it was ‘a matter of luck’ she was not killed.
In a video interview recorded while she was in hospital, the ‘extremely frail’ Mrs Turpin said: ‘He woke me up with the knife in my chest telling me he couldn’t take any more.’
Jurors were previously told Mrs Turpin, who has lost her eyesight, suffers diabetes and needs a catheter, had become increasingly dependent on her husband’s help before the attack.
The court heard they had been happily married for nearly 70 years and Turpin was simply ‘too proud’ to ask their extended family for help in looking after her.
Giving evidence, Turpin said he could not remember the stabbing and that he did not do it with the intention to kill his wife, insisting the ‘last thing’ he wanted was to harm her.
He was cleared of attempted murder but found guilty of a lesser offence of wounding on the basis he was reckless as to the injuries she might sustain.
The pensioner was not in court for the verdicts, having become ill after giving his evidence in August.
On Wednesday, he was sentenced in his absence after being admitted to hospital with a chest infection and pneumonia.
Judge Alexia Durran handed Turpin two years’ custody suspended for two years.
She said: ‘I am driven to the conclusion that Mr Turpin was acting under incredible stress.
‘Otherwise, there is no sensible explanation…for attacking the person who you hold most dear.
‘It is quite clear that Mr Turpin was overcome by the stress and responsibility of looking after his wife.’
She added: ‘The events of that September morning will never arise again.’
Mrs Turpin, who is also 90, has been in a care home since the knife attack and is only able to speak to her husband over the telephone.
Prosecutor Alistair Richardson read out a statement prepared by a care worker on her behalf.
He said that while Mrs Turpin’s injuries had healed well, the ‘psychological impact is huge’.
The barrister said she misses her husband ‘dearly’, telling the court ‘her whole life has been turned upside down’.
Simon Gledhill, defending, said Turpin had wanted to plead guilty to wounding before trial but the prosecution had refused.
He said: ‘In September of last year, 60 years of happy marriage were turned upside down by Mr Turpin’s actions.
‘He is acutely aware of the impact his actions had on his wife and on their marriage and expressed to me, frequently, overwhelming regret that those consequences were caused by his actions.
‘He has expressed on more than one occasion a strong desire to give his wife a hug and tell her that he is sorry.
‘I hope that everything the court has seen of Mr Turpin… the court will accept that remorse as absolutely genuine on his part.’
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