Senior citizen tells emergency operator he killed his wife because he couldn't cope with her dementia
The British documentary series Ambulance follows the plight of emergency service workers, from the high-pressure control room to the crews on the streets. On a recent episode, an OAP (Old Age Pensioner, aka senior citizen) called 999 (the UK's 911) to confess to a shocking crime: killing his wife with an iron bar because he could not cope with her dementia.
The distressing moment was captured on film and aired on BBC 1 last night. "I've killed my wife," the elderly man tells the call handler. "She can’t walk. She’s incontinent, and I can’t cope. So I’ve killed her." "Are you with the patient now?" asks the operator. "Yes," says the senior, informing the operator his wife was 86.
According to British news outlets, he went on to request that the police not use sirens when they arrive, because a little girl was throwing a birthday party next door.
Watch the distressing 999 call between the senior citizen and the 999 operator
The man is understood to be Lawrence Franks, who married his wife, Patricia, 62 years ago. Reportedly she begged her husband never to let her be taken to a nursing home during the last decade of her life. After getting diagnosed with dementia, Mrs. Franks' condition deteriorated to the point where she could no longer function on her own. As a result, Mr. Franks became her caregiver, but suffered a hernia moving her back and forth between her bed and favorite armchair.
Following the tragedy, Mr. Franks was charged with murder and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Judge David Stockdale accepted the plea and sentenced Mr. Franks to two years in jail with two years suspended. The judge explained the sentence by citing unique circumstances: the Franks' loving 62-year marriage; Mr. Frank's abnormal mental condition; testimony that Mrs. Franks was ''completely unaware'' of the violence done to her; and a victim impact statement from Mrs Franks’ nephew Samuel Whiteside stating the family bore "no malice" towards Mr. Franks.
Judge Stockdale stated, per The Sun:
"This is a most unusual and very sad case and most would say heartbreaking. You and your wife were happily married for 62 years. You were utterly devoted to each other throughout your marriage and during the decline in her health as you cared for her.
"You took care of her despite your own age without outside help and your dedicated to her was undoubtedly unconditional. I have heard there were alterations to your own home including rails, converting the garage into a downstairs bedroom for her so she could continue to live at home as was her wish.
''She was particularly anxious not to be placed in a care home, and this was said so repeatedly that this was a genuine concern. But as her health deteriorated, the burden of looking after her became even harder for you. Yet you continued to care for your wife without assistance.
"She was completely unaware of what happened to her. There was an abnormality in your mental function. Doctors have confirmed this was diminished responsibility. The act was a spur of the moment and your genuine belief this was an act of mercy. No two cases are the same. This is far from showing malice or ill will."