Husband's conviction for killing his terminally ill wife overturned



Ian Gordon, 67, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in October after admitting smothering his wife Patricia, 63, at their home in Troon, Ayrshire, Scotland

A devoted husband who was jailed for suffocating his terminally ill wife with a pillow in 'a final act of love' was freed today after appeal judges quashed his sentence.

Ian was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in October after admitting smothering his wife Patricia, 63, at their home in Troon, Ayrshire, Scotland.

But today the Criminal Appeal Court in Edinburgh overturned his conviction, saying his was an 'exceptional case' and his actions were motivated 'solely by love'.

Defending, Gordon Jackson QC told the court: 'In the particular circumstances of this case there was neither public nor private interest in the sentence of imprisonment.'

Judge Lord Brodie, sitting with Lord Turnbull, said: 'The taking of human life is always a matter of the utmost seriousness. 

'However, having read all the material which was provided and having listened to what was said by the Dean of Faculty we agree this is indeed an exceptional case.'   

The judge said it was accepted by the authorities and Mr Gordon's family that his actions in hastening the death of his wife were motivated 'solely by love' for her.

Lord Brodie said Mr Gordon was a person of apparent excellent character who worked all his life and was devoted to his wife of 43 years.

Ian and Patricia Gordon's daughter Gail Whyte said her mother was screaming, moaning and clearly in excruciating pain before she died 

The court was told that Mrs Gordon, who was suffering from terminal cancer, was in terrible pain and that painkillers were not working.

Mr Jackson said that in addition she had an intense fear of medical intervention and all she wanted was for her husband to try to care for her.

He added: 'He had totally given up his employment. Every time his wife had to go anywhere he was always at her side.'

Mr Jackson said the Sunday before she died she was rushed to hospital, but only stayed a day and a half.

The defence counsel added: 'She could not stand being there any longer.

'She was getting painkillers but eventually they did not work very well anymore.'

Their daughter Gail Whyte said her mother was screaming, moaning and clearly in excruciating pain.

Mr Jackson said that as the pain became more excruciating 'Mr Gordon did what he did'.

He told the judges: 'He says he could tell just looking at his wife and she was looking at him that that was what she wanted at that stage. 

'There was no struggle, no fighting. He simply placed the pillow and let her go.'

Mr Jackson said their daughter had described them as a couple who were absolutely devoted to one another after meeting as teenagers, saying: 'As she put it 'for dad everything was about mum'.'

Today the Criminal Appeal Court in Edinburgh overturned Mr Gordon's (pictured) conviction, saying his was an 'exceptional case' and his actions to end her painful battle with cancer were motivated 'solely by love'

She told how she became aware of her mother's fear of hospital and that she did not want to be left alone to die there.

The defence lawyer said a family doctor had described what Gordon had done as 'his final act of love'.

Mr Jackson said jailing Mr Gordon took him away from his family and meant he was not with them to help with the grieving process. 

He added: 'They feel as if they have been given a double whammy.'

Mr Jackson said: 'There is absolutely no reason why this man should be in jail and certainly not for any longer.'

Mr Gordon originally stood trial at the High Court in Glasgow on September 6 last year charged with murdering his wife on April 28 in 2016. 

But two days later the court accepted his plea to the reduced charge of culpable homicide on the basis of diminished responsibility. 

He had previously offered to plead guilty to that offence.

The sentencing judge, Lord Arthurson, told Mr Gordon that given the nature of the charge he was convicted of a custodial sentence was 'inevitable'.

Lord Brodie said that in a case of murder only one sentence is available to the court, a life sentence, but where it is culpable homicide the court has a wide discretion in considering which one to impose. 

The appeal judge said they would give full reasons in writing for their decision at a later date.  


Retired painter Ian Gordon went to trial in October 2017 charged with murder.

However the charge was withdrawn after jurors heard evidence from their daughter Gail Whyte. 

She told the court at the time: '[My father] had nothing whatsoever to gain by doing that and absolutely everything to lose. They were together nearly 50 years.'

Gail Whyte said she loved her father 'beyond measure' and described seeing her mother hours before she died.

She said: 'She was screaming and moaning. She was clearly in excruciating pain...she couldn't get comfortable. 

'I have never heard a noise like that before, and certainly not from my mum. It was absolutely harrowing.' 

Mrs Whyte said around 4.30am the next day, her father phoned to say her mother 'was away', and she went to their home.

In a statement to police, she said her father told her he was 'sorry' and 'couldn't see her in that pain'. 

She added: 'I don't remember his exact words but something like, 'I'm not going to tell you what I did'.

He then said, 'I know I'm going to jail, I don't know how long for, but I don't have a single regret'.

She said she was glad her father helped her mother and knew about a 'pact' her parents had.  

She added: 'My mum was my dad's entire world, everything he did was for my mum. She was his reason for getting up in the morning.' 

"I sat facing Kathy. We kissed and held each other's hands. The room went utterly still. The doctor's voice emerged into the silence: 'Are you certain that you want this to go ahead?' Once more Kathy said, 'Yes, please.'"

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