Man aged 90 spared jail for knife attack on wife

Thursday, Sep 22, 2022

LONDON: A 90-year-old man has been spared jailed for stabbing his blind and ailing wife of more than 60 years.

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.

Afterwards, he called 999 and told the operator: “I don’t want to stop the bleeding. We want to die.” While refusing to take direction over the phone, he urged emergency services to “hurry up”, the Old Bailey was told.

Jurors heard 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.

Giving evidence, Turpin said the “last thing” he wanted was to harm his wife.

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. 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” and “her whole life has been turned upside down”.

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 that 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 Alexia Durran handed Turpin two years’ custody suspended for two years. She 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.”