Pensioner, 90, convicted of stabbing blind wife in bed at Orpington home

90-year-old Edward Turpin outside the Old Bailey, central London
Edward Turpin outside the Old Bailey in central London

A 90-year-old man has been found guilty of stabbing his blind and ailing wife while she tried to sleep, after 60 years of happy marriage. Retired butcher Edward Turpin was accused of trying to kill Joan Turpin, also 90, after losing patience with caring for her at their home in Ringshall Road, Orpington, Kent, on September 22 last year. The pensioner became unwell after giving evidence in his Old Bailey trial and was not present in court when a jury returned verdicts on Tuesday after deliberating for 10 hours and 23 minutes. Turpin was cleared of attempted murder and an alternative charge of wounding Mrs Turpin with intent. However, the jury found him guilty of a further lesser alternative charge of wounding on the basis he was reckless as to the injuries she might sustain.

Turpin had accepted he got a carving knife from the kitchen and injured his wife in bed, but said it was to “quieten her down” after she started screaming at night. Judge Alexia Durran noted it had been a “difficult case” as she adjourned sentencing to a date to be fixed.

She told the jury: “Mr Turpin has been unwell since he concluded his evidence last week. We will arrange a time for him to come to this court and I will sentence Mr Turpin for wounding.” The court was told Turpin had been admitted to hospital and was waiting to see a consultant. He had been on bail on condition of limited contact with his wife who is in a care home. The court heard that while her injuries had healed, the psychological impact had been great.

“A butcher for many, many years, he knows a thing or two about knives,” the prosecutor said.

Jurors had heard that Mrs Turpin, who has lost her eyesight, suffers diabetes and needs a catheter, had become increasingly dependent on her husband’s help. Turpin felt he could “no longer cope” and, at about 1.30am, attacked his wife in their bed before turning the knife on himself, the court heard. He made a 999 call immediately after the attack and told the operator: “I don’t want to stop the bleeding. We want to die.” He was said to have added: “She’s been ill, she’s come home, all she’s done is got on my nerves. I’ve just burst. I’ve just gone.” Giving evidence, Turpin, who spent years working in Smithfield meat market in central London, said the “last thing” he wanted was to harm his wife. He rejected the suggestion he had been implying the couple were taking part in a suicide pact, telling jurors: “We had 60 good years and all I want to do is, you know, carry on life.” The couple are still married and Turpin phones his wife at the care home where she now lives twice a day, he said. Mrs Turpin defended her husband’s record as a “wonderful man” who never “laid one finger” on her prior to the incident.

Edward Turpin was cleared of attempted murder

'He adores me' In a video interview after the attack, she said: “It’s a long time to be married to someone to fall out of love with. “Adore him and he adores me.” Prosecutor Alistair Richardson had previously told jurors it was “no doubt an incredibly sad case” but urged them to put aside emotion and consider the evidence. “There is no doubt that this is an incredibly sad case – that Joan Turpin loves her husband and that she is loyal to him,” Mr Richardson said. “But there is also no doubt that on September 22 last year, the defendant left their bedroom, gave in to his frustrations, went downstairs into the kitchen, selected a knife of considerable size and came back upstairs and stabbed Joan Turpin repeatedly, including to the area by her heart.”

'Knows a thing or two about knives'

“A butcher for many, many years, he knows a thing or two about knives,” the prosecutor said. But defence barrister Simon Gledhill asked jurors to clear his client of attempted murder because he was too “bewildered” to think clearly during the attack. Mr Gledhill also said Turpin had been acting recklessly but “no more than recklessly”, and subsequently was not guilty of an alternative charge of section 18 wounding with intent. “I suggest to you in those early hours at 1.30 in the morning, his mind and his thinking became so clearly muddled, so irrational and so bewildered, that he did what in every other minute of his life he would clearly consider to be unthinkable and hurt his wife,” he said. “His wife was the very centre of his world and his existence. “They have no children. “He has no siblings. “Without his wife, he has nothing. “And that, members of the jury, is an awful lot to lose. “What is absolutely clear is Edward Turpin is not a vindictive man, he is not a malicious man, he is not a man with a history of a violent temper. “In fact what has become clear is, he was a man who was the very opposite – a man who dedicated a significant portion of his time to caring for his wife, providing for her.”

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