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3 May 2017, 11:50
Pensioner accused of murdering his wife near St Neots, by smothering her with a plastic bag has died before his court case could be heard.
Brendon Constant, 87, was charged with the murder of his 86 year-old wife Jean at a care home in Cambridgeshire.
Cambridge Crown Court has today heard Mr Constant had attempted to kill himself as well in a murder-suicide in August last year, but survived and faced court proceedings.
Sally Hobson, the barrister representing Mr Constant, said he died after a fall at home on April 27 after celebrating his grandson's birthday.
She said there was "no suggestion that Mr Constant took his own life" while awaiting his court date.
"He was able to join in a celebration of his grandson's birthday then when he retired to bed he spoke briefly to his great-granddaughter, wished her a good night then went upstairs and fell,'' she said. "He suffered catastrophic head injuries.''
Mr Constant was taken to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge and his family agreed to switch off his life support machine the following day.
"He had hoped to end his life together with his wife in August last year in circumstances they hoped would cause the least distress and discomfort," said Ms Hobson.
"Unfortunately it's ended in a murder charge.
It's a very sad end to his life but I'm told by his children that they take comfort that their father did not suffer at the end.''
Judge David Farrell voiced concerns over the fact Mr Constant had been granted bail and fell at home.
Everyone thought he was in a safe environment so I'm concerned all proper care was given to him," he said.
Mr Constant's two sons sat in court during the brief hearing.
Ms Hobson told the judge:
"They will want to reassure you that every care was taken with their father."
A post-mortem examination concluded that Mrs Constant died of plastic bag asphyxia in association with heart disease.
Her body was discovered by police who were called to Poppyfields care home in Chapman Way, Eynesbury, near St Neots, on August 22.
Mr Constant, of Richmond Road, Wisbech, did not enter a plea to the murder charge before his death.