Woman Jailed For Murdering Terminally Ill Friend

A church-goer from North Yorkshire who smothered a dying devout Christian despite her victim's opposition to euthanasia has been jailed for life.

54 year old Heather Davidson has been told she'll serve a minimum term of nine years for his murder.

Cancer patient David Paterson, 81, was close to a natural death when she suffocated him in the bedroom of his care home on February 11.

About two hours before, she had called Macmillan Cancer Support to ask if smothering her friend would make her a murderer.

She claimed it was a mercy killing, but she acted ``unilaterally'' without thinking about what he wanted, or the views of family and staff, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton:

"You were only saving him a few hours of suffering. In so doing, you deprived him of what he wanted most, a natural death. This private man did not in death have a private ending.''

Davidson had made complaints in the phone call to Macmillan about how the widower was being treated at Sowerby House, Thirsk, which the prosecution said were unfounded.

She wept in the dock as extracts from the call she made from her mobile phone during her final visit to Mr Paterson were played in court.

In the call, Davidson said her friend could not eat or drink, was ``skin and bone'' and was in a ``dreadful state''.

She told the handler: ``It might be better if I could put a pillow over his face.''

Later, she asked: ``Would I be a murderer if I did that?''

The charity worker replied firmly: ``In the eyes of the law, yes you would, yeah.''

Davidson said in the call: ``If he was a dog he would have been put down months ago.''

In a macabre twist, the court heard Davidson has a previous conviction for trying to smother her neighbour's dog.

After an argument, she took the pet and taped a plastic bag over its head.

The dog was found limp, hidden in a bedding box by a police officer who managed to revive it.

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