Final act of devotion for ‘perfect’ couple?

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A 75-year-old woman believed to have carried out a mercy killing on her dying husband was given the full criminal treatment by police.

‘Perfect wife and neighbour’ Sheila Sampford was questioned for hours then kept in a custody cell overnight.

Under 24 hour surveillance, she would have slept on a thin plastic mattress in a room with no facilities except a wall-mounted metal lavatory.

The quiet and unassuming pensioner was arrested on suspicion of murder in the early hours of Friday morning after police found the body of her husband John at their home in Spoonley Wood, Bancroft Park.

Retired coach-painter Mr Sampford, 83, was in the final stages of leukaemia and had just months to live, say neighbours.

The cause of death was this week given as strangulation.

Shocked neighbours on the close-knit estate say the couple, who had been married for 50 years, were well-liked and respected.

“They were lovely people who clearly thought the world of each other after all those years. Sheila was the perfect wife and a lovely neighbour,” said one.

“John was very ill indeed. He didn’t have long left, which was really distressing. If this was an assisted suicide then it would have been the final act after years of devotion.”

Another source said: “Everybody understands why police have to investigate. But we all hope they showed some compassion because of Mrs Sampford’s age and the circumstances.”

A police spokesman told the Citizen that anybody arrested on suspicion of a criminal offence receives the same official treatment in accordance with Home Office guidelines.