Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Scotland news-Most silly

This is one of the silliest things I've read of late. From the

Judge bans man from the pub for killing his wife

By Brian Ferguson

A JUDGE yesterday spared a pensioner who killed his wife a prison sentence – and instead banned him from going to the pub.

Edward Flaherty strangled his wife with a tie after she refused to give him money to go to his local bar in Glasgow. But the 74-year-old was told by the judge, Lord Matthews, that his dementia made him unsuitable for prison, and that being unable to go to the pub would be a "more meaningful" punishment.

Lord Matthews imposed a year-long order that will keep him inside his home during pub opening hours. He will be tagged and banned from going out between 11am and 11pm.

The sentence was attacked last night, both for failing to protect the public and for not providing proper care for Flaherty.

Labour's justice spokesman, Paul Martin, said: "The sentence is clearly not robust enough for the crime, and the failure to provide a package of care completely inappropriate.

"The judge has to take responsibility for this."

Flaherty claimed he had no recollection of throttling his wife with a tie in April last year at their home in Drygate, Glasgow.

His lawyer told the court that his client had been diagnosed with progressive dementia and that he would ultimately need 24-hour care.

Lord Matthews told the defendant: "You were found guilty of the culpable homicide of your wife, who you were together with for many years.

"In normal circumstances this would attract a prison sentence in double figures.

"I have read and considered a number of reports from experts. It is plain to me that if I were to impose that sort of sentence you would be released in a very short time because prison would not be able to cope with your condition.

"Sentencing you would just be a token gesture. I am anxious to impose a sentence that restricts your liberty.

"You still go to the pub where you went with your wife. That must annoy her relatives.

"Not being able to go there will be a more meaningful disposal than a prison sentence which will not last long."

Mr Martin, a Glasgow MSP, said: "This is clearly a very difficult case in which there has been a mental illness involved.

"However, the real issue here is that the sentence has not been robust enough to protect the public from him doing anything similar again.

"There has been no effort to provide any kind of appropriate care package to deal with this man's mental health condition.

"A restriction of liberty order is clearly inappropriate in a case as serious as this."

Edward McLaughlan, a spokesman for the Scottish Dementia Working Group, an independent campaign group funded by Alzheimer's Scotland, said: "It's a quite shocking sentence for a crime like this.

"There are obviously a lot of people with dementia who are being treated in prison, although we don't know how serious his condition is.

"The whole issue of the provision of care for dementia sufferers needs to be looked at in the light of this case, as there would clearly be issues if he was to be treated in a care home.

"I'm not entirely sure what the best sentence for this individual would be, but it's certainly not appropriate for him to receive a restriction of liberty order."

Flaherty was convicted of killing 69-year-old Ina with a tie after she refused to give him money to go to the pub.

The High Court in Glasgow was told that, in a medical report, Flaherty claimed he had actually killed his sister, because she was cheeky.

Donald MacLeod, QC, defending, said yesterday: "The report prepared for the court paints a picture of a man in significant physical and mental decline.

"There is a clear diagnosis of dementia setting in. It is a progressive condition and ultimately he will need 24-hour care.

"I am deeply conscious there has been a death here, but this man is very unwell.

"He was always willing to plead guilty to culpable homicide, but this was flatly rejected by the Crown and that is why a trial was necessary."

Flaherty went on trial accused of murder on 2 April last year.

A jury convicted the retired scaffolder of the reduced charge of culpable homicide.

The jury was told that even slight pressure around Mrs Flaherty's neck could have caused her death because her arteries were furred.

The court had heard that Flaherty had regularly visited a pub called The Lampost, on Duke Street, after his retirement and had developed a drink problem.

After the couple returned from the pub he wanted to go back for more, but Mrs Flaherty refused to give him any money.

Giving evidence in his defence, Flaherty, of Gibson Heights, Drygate, said he had no recollection of the moment he throttled his wife.

The court heard Flaherty, who has had three heart attacks, could not remember who the Prime Minister was and called him "that curly headed bloke".

He also thought the current US president was Richard Nixon.

He recently boarded a train to Bristol, did not know where he was and had to have £100 sent to him to get home.

But when asked who killed Mrs Flaherty, he said: "It must have been me. There are no ghosts running about the house who would have done that."

Flaherty had denied a suggestion from the Solicitor-General, Frank Mulholland, QC, prosecuting, that he "blocked Ina's killing out of his memory because it was so dreadful".

Some jurors wept as he told the court how he and his wife had a "strong and firm" marriage that lasted 52 years. He had never once struck her in all these years, and she had never hit him, the jury was told.

A spokesman for Victim Support last night said: "We never comment on specific cases, but at the end of the day the only people who can provide sensible judgment on a case are those who hold all the relevant evidence."

SPS insists that it could cope as nation braces itself for an epidemic

THE Scottish Prison Service has insisted it has the right facilities in place to tackle a vast majority of medical conditions – including mental-health illnesses such as dementia.

An SPS spokesman said: "We do definitely have prisoners with dementia, although it's not possible to say exactly how many. We have people in our prisons with all manner of medical conditions. The only exceptions would be those people with terminal illness, who have a few months to live that are better suited to hospital treatment." But Bill Aitken, the Scottish Conservative justice spokesman, said that in this case normal sentencing guidelines could not be applied.

"There are a lot of dementia sufferers who are not violent, and there may be questions about how to deal with this individual if he does not adhere to his restriction of liberty order," he said.

"The key thing in this particular case is that the judge has seen all the relevant medical reports. I am satisfied that the normal sentencing considerations could not be applied."

Campaigners have warned that health and social services could be overwhelmed by the vast numbers of people with dementia. Up to 65,000 people in Scotland are thought to have dementia, but it is estimated that the number of people affected will rise by 75 per cent by 2031 as the elderly population increases.

There have also been concerns in the past year that dementia patients could be denied drugs to slow down their progression because of a move by NHS rationing watchdogs. Alzheimer Scotland, a leading campaign group, has called for an additional £150 million to tackle what it has described as the dementia epidemic.

Although dementia often begins with increasing forgetfulness, a sufferer will increasingly require assistance with everyday activities, such as dressing and going to the toilet.

By the end of their life, dementia sufferers will probably be living in a care home, nursing home or hospital.

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