Pensioner, 75, pleads guilty to murder of husband, 83

Court news
Court news

A woman, 75, has pleaded guilty to the murder of her 83-year-old terminally ill husband, saying it was an act of mercy.

Sheila Sampford pleaded guilty via a video link-up from Peterborough Prison where she is being held on remand.

Judge Richard Foster, hearing the case at Luton Crown Court, said that although Mrs Sampford had entered a guilty plea on the basis that the killing was an act of mercy, there would have to be a hearing next month to determine whether that was in fact the case.

The court heard Mrs Sampford told police after her arrest last July that her husband’s death was the result of a suicide pact.

The couple had been married for 50 years and lived in Spoonley Wood, Bancroft Park, Milton Keynes.

Mr Sampford, who was terminally ill with leukaemia, was found dead at the house on July 5 last year.

At an earlier hearing, the court heard the cause of death was strangulation.

Neil Moore, prosecuting, said there was a “basis” to Mrs Sampford’s plea.

He said: “The issue that arises in this case is whether she believed this killing was an act of mercy.”

John Price QC, defending, told the court: “The only matter is whether he asked her to do what she then did to him.”

The judge said there would have to be a Newton hearing to determine the matter.

That will take place next month in a day long hearing at which Mrs Sampford will give evidence.

It’s expected she will be sentenced then.