Man Accused Of Trying To Smother Father

23 June 2011, 14:02

A son was found guilty today of trying to smother his dying father on a hospital ward after learning he had no chance of survival.

A son was found guilty today of trying to smother his dying father on a hospital ward after learning he had no chance of survival.

Joseph Peachey, 48, was caught by a nurse with one hand over his father's mouth and the other pinching his nose after being overheard telling him ``to just die''.

He had been distraught after learning Albert Peachey, 79, had no hope of recovery from his medical conditions and would not be allowed to die at home in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

At Lewes Crown Court, Peachey was found guilty of attempting to murder his father at the Eastbourne District General Hospital on December 20 last year, following two hours and 15 minutes of deliberation.

He admitted four counts of assault during the four-day trial after the court heard he lashed out at hospital staff and police officers when they intervened.

Well-built Peachey, wearing a grey tracksuit top and tinted glasses in the dock, drew a sharp intake of breath after the jury foreman returned the guilty verdict.

Sentencing was adjourned until August 19 for psychiatric and psychological reports to be prepared.

Before he was led to the cells, Peachey gave a thumbs up to the public gallery.

Judge Richard Hayward said Peachey has previous offences including for attempted grievous bodily harm, possession of knives and affray.

He said: ``There is quite a lot of violence in his past and his behaviour on the day was extremely disturbing and I have some reports from the cells that his behaviour is unpredictable.''

Dementia sufferer Mr Peachey, who had bowel cancer and had suffered a ``massive'' stroke, died five days later but his son's actions were not believed to have contributed.

Mr Peachey had undergone a major operation for the cancer on November 30 but failed to make a recovery and later suffered a number of infections.

It was agreed with members of his family, including Peachey, that a ``do not resuscitate sign'' would be placed over his bed, but his condition continued to worsen.

By December 16, the possibility of him being discharged to die at home was discussed, and Peachey told hospital staff he would care for him in his last days at his home in Badlesmere Road, Eastbourne.

But Mr Peachey's condition deteriorated so much that medics feared he would not receive the necessary care and pain control if he were not in hospital.

The court heard that Mr Peachey then suffered a devastating stroke, rendering him unconscious and unresponsive with no chance of him ever recovering.

Relatives agreed to an ``end of life pathway'', a process of agreement where a patient's condition is stabilised and they are given pain relief but there is no further medical intervention.

On December 20, Peachey, who regularly visited his father in hospital, was overheard by a nurse from behind a curtain on his ward telling his father ``to just die'', jurors heard.

He added: ``There's no point in staying alive and the hospital staff are just c****.'' The nurse also heard him telling his father he would stuff a pillow over his face.

Senior staff nurse Robert Wilson then went behind the curtain and found Peachey had removed his oxygen mask and had one hand over his father's mouth and the other pinching his nose.

Mr Wilson told Peachey to immediately stop, to which he replied he wanted to be left alone with his father for 15 minutes.

Prosecutor Richard Barton said: ``The Crown say the clear implication of that is he wanted to be alone with his father for 15 minutes to carry out his aim of killing him.''

Peachey then flew into a rage, punching Mr Wilson and then hitting security guard Stuart Graham twice when he was called to help.

When police arrived, Peachey punched Pc Desmond Kirby and during the struggle that ensued, bit through his colleague Pc David Brown's uniform.

Jurors heard that Peachey later denied he had been trying to suffocate his father, claiming that he was actually checking his false teeth.

Mr Barton said there was no doubt that Peachey was in a state of intense emotional turmoil after finding his father had no hope of living.

But he said Peachey was not acting to carry out a mercy killing and claimed it was a lie for him to suggest that he was adjusting his father's false teeth.

Mr Barton said: ``What he was seen to be doing could only have one probable explanation - that he was trying to cut off his air supply and was trying to kill him.''

A charge of affray was dropped.