A man who cut his wife’s throat in a failed suicide pact has avoided jail for manslaughter after a judge said he “acted out of love”.
Graham Mansfield, 73, said he killed cancer-stricken Dyanne Mansfield, 71, after she asked him to take her life “when things get bad for me”.
Graham told Manchester Crown Court they were the “saddest words he had ever heard” but agreed to his wife’s request as long as he could kill himself too.
On the morning of March 24, 2021, Graham Mansfield was found lying in a pool of blood at the couple’s home in Hale, Greater Manchester, while the body of Mrs Mansfield, his wife of over 40 years, was slumped in a chair at the bottom of their garden.
Police and paramedics went to the home in Canterbury Road after Mr Mansfield dialled 999 and told the operator he had killed his wife of 40 years at 9pm the previous day before trying to kill himself.
Mrs Mansfield had bled heavily from a 6.3in “gaping incised wound” and her windpipe had been severed.
Three knives and a lump hammer were found near her body.
Also discovered nearby were two bricks on top of a plastic wallet containing a note written by Mr Mansfield for the police.
“We have decided to take our own lives,” it said, giving instructions on where to find his house keys and how to contact his sister, the court heard.
Another note written by Mansfield, addressed to his family, was found in an envelope in the house.
It read: “We are sorry to burden you with this but there is no other way. We made a pact that when it got too bad for Dyanne we would end it.
“I couldn’t bear to live without Dyanne and as the months progressed and as things got worse, it only reinforced our decision that the time has arrived. We hope you all understand.
“Don’t get too upset. We have had a wonderful and happy life together.”
The notes were not signed by Mrs Mansfield, the court heard.
Mansfield was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder and later underwent surgery for wounds to his neck and both wrists.
Mansfield later said he killed his wife in an “act of love”.
Police went on to speak to the couple’s family, friends and neighbours, who spoke favourably about the defendant and his “unswerving devotion” to his wife.
Some even expressed no surprise at the suggestion that he had killed her as part of a suicide pact, jurors heard.
In a victim personal statement read out to the court, Mrs Mansfield’s brother Peter Higson said: “I miss my sister terribly. Her death did not come as a shock to me because I knew she was very ill and in great pain.
“However, the manner of her death did come as a shock.
“Having said that I can understand the predicament that Graham found himself in. I found myself in a similar situation when my own wife died of cancer.
“I don’t hold any malice against Graham and will continue to value his friendship in future.
“If Graham is sentenced to an immediate term of imprisonment, I would be very unhappy. I believe Graham has suffered more than enough and he will never get over this ordeal.”
A jury of 10 men and two women took 90 minutes to find Mansfield not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.
Sentencing Mansfield, Mr Justice Goose today, July 21, said: “The circumstances of this case are a tragedy for you and are exceptional in the experiences of this court.
“You were under immense emotional pressure.
“I am entirely satisfied that you acted out of love for your wife.”
Outside court, an emotional Mansfield said his wife would be “fuming” that he has a criminal conviction.
He said: “The law needs to change. Nobody should have to go through what we went through.
“Unfortunately today my wife is not here. She shouldn’t have had to die in such barbaric circumstances, that’s what we had to do.
“As far as I’m concerned as soon as we can get some form of euthanasia with terminal illness, in our case, as a priority, the sooner that happens the better this country will be.
“Dyanne would be fuming now that I have got a conviction for doing something that she asked us to do. That I couldn’t live without her.
“She would be fuming, but at the end I have walked out of this building thinking… I was going into a cell and a prison van.
“I don’t want anybody to go through this. It’s a strain.”