Carer guilty of murder of father with MS

Friday 26 February 2016 14.47
Jury at Old Bailey found Claire Darbyshire guilty of her father's murder
Jury at Old Bailey found Claire Darbyshire guilty of her father's murder

A carer who claimed she suffocated her father because of his "intolerable" multiple sclerosis has been found guilty of murder at a British court.

Claire Darbyshire, 36, killed her 67-year-old father Brian at their home in Wykeham Green, Dagenham, east London, on 2 September last year.

Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC told jurors that Darbyshire accepted killing the former Ford motor company stock controller but claimed it was part of a "suicide pact".

He told jurors: "In essence, she asserts that they had come to this agreement because his life had become intolerable due to multiple sclerosis and she would have nothing to live for once her father had gone."

However, he told jurors that Mr Darbyshire had never expressed any suicidal thoughts before or complained about being in pain to nurses who visited him.

The widower had developed MS in 1995 and over the years his condition worsened and he became bedridden.

In 2014, Darbyshire took over as his sole carer.

Medical records revealed he had episodes of "bad temper and aggression" but had never tried to kill himself, Mr Rees said.

The defendant was born Christopher but changed her name to Claire by deed poll in 2008 and has lived as a woman for many years, Mr Rees said.

The court heard that her friend had noticed over time that Darbyshire was getting "more and more stressed" and complained about having to look after her father.

On the morning of Friday 10 September - eight days after the killing - police were called to the Darbyshire home after a neighbour raised the alarm.

Police discovered Mr Darbyshire's body in his bed with a suit, teddy bear and various handwritten notes nearby.

Following her arrest, Darbyshire told police that she had planned to hand herself in the next day and a signed account was found among her belongings.

Her defence lawyer, Paul Keleher QC, argued that her actions amounted to assisting a suicide rather than committing an unlawful killing.

Darbyshire, who is pre-operative transgender, spent five months on remand in a men's prison awaiting trial.

In finding Darbyshire guilty of murder, the jury rejected the lesser offences of manslaughter or assisting a suicide.

Sentencing was adjourned to allow for a prison report on the impact of custody.