Pensioner accused of murdering wife says she asked him in 'saddest words' as part of suicide pact

Graham Mansfield is accused of murdering his wife of 40 years Dyanne in what he says was a 'suicide pact'. Credit: MEN Media

A pensioner accused of murdering his cancer-stricken wife has told a court she asked him to kill her in a 'suicide pact' - saying they were the "saddest words he had ever heard".

Graham Mansfield, 73, was found lying in a pool of blood in his kitchen while the body of his wife Dyanne, 71, was slumped in a chair at the bottom of their back garden in Hale, Greater Manchester.

Manchester Crown Court heard Mansfield, and his wife of more than 40 years, agreed they would end their lives together when her lung cancer became 'too bad' for her.

He told the court: "Dyanne said to me ‘Graham, this is the best I am ever going to be now. When things get bad for me, will you kill me?’

"It was the saddest words I had ever heard.

"I said 'Dyanne, I will. On one condition. That I go with you'.

"She said 'there is nothing wrong with you, there is no reason'. I said 'Dyanne, I can’t live without you'."

His barrister, Richard Orme, asked Mansfield: “Were you intending to keep that promise?”

He replied: “Yes, most definitely, because Dyanne was the most important, precious thing in the world and without her there was nothing.”

Dyanne Mansfield had Stage 4 lung cancer and had become increasingly unwell, her husband Graham told the court. Credit: MEN Media

Opening the case prosecutor David Temkin QC previously told jurors, "The defendant does not dispute that he killed his wife. Nor does he dispute that he cut her throat intending to kill her."This short trial will concern the question of why the defendant killed his wife.

"The defendant maintains that his reason for killing her provides him with a defence. That will be for you to decide."

On Thursday, 21 July, Mr Justice Goose sent the jury out to begin their deliberations.

The court also heard earlier in the trial that, on discovering the scene, Mansfield begged police to 'let him die' and said he had only dialled 999 so his sister would not make the grim discovery.

Dyanne was found slumped in a garden chair at the bottom of her garden in Hale, Greater Manchester.

Giving evidence the retired baggage handler at Manchester Airport said the couple married in Las Vegas in September 1980.

He said: “It was wonderful. The best thing that had happened to me. You don’t want to speak for someone else, Dyanne is not here, but she felt that way.

“We were very fortunate. We both liked doing the same things – cycling, gardening, walking, playing badminton.”

He said his wife, a retired import/export clerk, was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 1999 which led to the removal of a kidney in 2004.

Years of uninterrupted good health followed, he said, as they later enjoyed an active retirement together.

He said 2020 was the "start of another fantastic year" with three holidays booked and a 40th wedding anniversary trip planned to the United States.

But ahead of the Covid-19 lockdown his wife developed a “tickly cough”.

In September, a doctor told her a scan had showed she had lung cancer and it had spread to her lymph nodes.

Mansfield said: “That was basically when our nightmare began.”

A week later they were told the cancer had reached Stage 4. Mansfield added: “We knew there was no Stage 5. There were tears in our eyes. I was inconsolable.”

Mansfield said the couple were “shell-shocked” when they were told in October that she had two years at most to live.

Graham Mansfield told police his wife's last few months were "torturous" as her weight was "dropping off. Credit: MEN Media

He said his wife's condition deteriorated following a bout of chemotherapy - which 'plagued her mind'.

She struggled to swallow, was losing weight and her voice was 'croaking', he told jurors.

She could only eat small portions of soft food and, after cancelling chemotherapy sessions, Mr Mansfield said he could see his wife going 'downhill'.

"I thought she was basically dying in front of me, I felt helpless," he said.

He said they drove up to Ashley in Cheshire, then Buxton, to find somewhere to take their lives, before she suggested their own back garden as it was 'a place they loved' and was 'secluded', the jury heard.Mr Mansfield told jurors he tidied the house, cancelled newspaper and milk rounds, withdrew money from bank accounts and emptied the freezer the day before his wife died.Crying in the dock, he told jurors: "I remember we went to bed and were cuddling like we always did, and told one another how much we loved one another.

"It was horrible. It was this big black cloud over us. We knew our time on this planet was over."

Mansfield said he wrote letters to family members and police.He told jurors that on 23 March, they reminisced about their 'wonderful' lives together. At around 5pm, he said his wife asked for a glass of wine. He had two whiskies with lemonade, the court heard.Mr Mansfield said they walked to the bottom of the garden, before he asked if she was ready. The jury heard she said 'yes'."Every fibre of my body was saying not to do it," he told jurors. "I love her so much."

Cross examining, Mr Temkin QC, said: "You have said Dyanne was your world and you lived life to the full together, but you did take her life in a particularly brutal way."

Mansfield replied: "We were in an impossible position. Every fibre of my body did not want to do that but we had no option.

"When you are looking to kill yourself it’s not as easy as you think. It was a cruel situation."

Mr Temkin asked: "Do you agree that it was an extreme act of violence on a person you adored?"

Mansfield said: "It was an act of love. When we planned a suicide pact we didn’t think we were doing anything wrong."

Mansfield denies murder and an alternative count of manslaughter.