96-year-old war veteran strangles wife to death after she begs him to kill her

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A 96-year-old World War II veteran has killed his wife of 68 years in a "perceived act of mercy".

Jack Tindall, 96, admitted to strangling his wife, Ernestine, 88, on August 13 last year after she begged him to help her end her life after the couple mistakenly thought that they were to be separated in different nursing homes.

It has also been reported that the couple's grandchildren have on numerous occasions heard Ernestine ask Tindall to help her to die, according to news site The Sun.

Mr Tindall finally carried out the deed one night, wrapping a dressing gown cord around his wife's neck, throttling her. Tindall told the police that he had surrounded "her beautiful face" with lilies after the act, before their granddaughter realised what was wrong and contacted the authorities.

"I've strangled her. All the pleading and pleading and pleading and I finally done it." said Tindall to the police.

Jack Tindall had served in North Africa, Italy, and finally Austria, where he met his wife. The couple got married in 1947 after returning home to the UK.

Ernestine had suffered from a stroke in August 2015 which paralysed her down one side. The stroke also triggered the beginnings of Alzheimer's dementia, according to The Nottingham Post.

Prior to this tragic event, the couple lived together at Queen's Court care home before their son, James, rented a new house for the entire family. James then invited his two parents into the new home so that the entire family could live together.

Mr Tindall and his wife were also described by the manager of Queen's Court care home as the "closest couple [she] had ever known".

Unfortunately, the old couple felt trapped and unhappy in the new house and upon realising this, James then arranged for staff from a nursing home to come over for a visit. This was unfortunately understood mistakenly by the couple as a sign that they were soon to be separated, triggering Ernestine's request to her husband.

Professor Yorston, the neurophysicist who spoke to Tindall shared that "He (Tindall) said she pleaded with him one last time to end it for her, and on the last time she asked he couldn't refuse."

"He said he'd never seen her face like that before and that she was afraid of ending up like a cabbage, being in pain and unable to move."

Judge Greg Dickinson QC had Tindall's charge reduced from murder to manslaughter with diminished responsibility and sentenced him to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

The judge then stated that "it is not necessary for the court to add further to the tragedy of this case by the imposition of a sentence of immediate imprisonment."

"This was a crime. Mr Tindall has taken the life of another person. Every life is uniquely precious," the judge said. "This is not a case of assisted suicide. This was a killing as a perceived act of mercy.

"However, it is central to this case that Mrs Tindall had repeatedly asked her husband to ensure that she did not suffer; to kill her rather than let her endure pain and indignity." 

"In fact, he was acting through the fog of his distress, his depression and his declining mental faculties, in particular his misapprehension that he and his beloved wife were about to be separated."

nicchew@sph.com.sg

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