‘Mercy killing’ OAP walks free as prison sentence overturned

George Webb
George Webb
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A SHEFFIELD pensioner who smothered his wife in a mercy killing was this afternoon freed from a two-year prison sentence after winning his appeal against his sentence.

George Webb, aged 73, of Luke Lane, Wadsley, was cleared in December of murdering his 75-year-old 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, allowed his appeal against sentence and replaced Webb’s 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 the “principle of the sanctity of human life would be undermined” by the reduction in sentence, which will be accompanied by a supervision order.

He said granting the OAP his freedom 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, was not present for the ruling.

The pensioner, who was jailed at Sheffield Crown Court in December, heard that Mrs Webb had a number of ailments - some real and some imagined - and had considered suicide for years. She had begged her husband of 49 years to help her die.

In May last year she attempted to kill herself with an overdose and when Webb feared this had not worked he smothered his sleeping wife with a plastic bag and a towel.

See tomorrow’s Star for full report.