Gary Baird admits killing wife Susan 'by way of diminished responsibility'

Gary Baird and wife Susan.
Gary Baird with wife Susan.

A 64-year-old man who killed his wife in a hammer attack in their Four Winds home in Belfast will be sentenced for her manslaughter in July. Gary Alexander Baird appeared in the dock of Belfast Crown Court on Monday where he pleaded guilty to a charge of the manslaughter of his wife Susan Baird by way of diminished responsibility. The 60-year- old mother-of-four died from catastrophic head injures in her Windermere Road home on the afternoon of Sunday August 16, 2020. At the time of her death, she worked as an administrator at Orangefield Presbyterian Church. At 4.51pm on the day in question Gary Baird - a former BBC security guard - called 999 and said "I've just murdered my wife". He told the operator he had hit her with a hammer and when asked if she was dead, Baird replied: "I think so." Police attended the couple's home and after entering via an unlocked front door, they observed a heavily-bloodstained Baird sitting in the kitchen with a wound to his head. They then discovered Mrs Baird who was lying slumped on a sofa in a small room off the kitchen. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Baird was arrested and when asked about his head wound, he told officers: "I did this to myself." Admitting he attacked his wife with a hammer then turned the weapon on himself, Baird also said "the voices in my head told me to do it". Baird subsequently pleaded guilty to a charge of manslaughter which was not accepted by the Crown, and he stood trial earlier this year on a charge of murdering his wife. The trial commenced in January in front of a jury who heard five days of evidence. However, as the murder trial was due to enter its second week, a legal issue arose which was dealt with in the absence of the jury. After making a ruling on the legal issue, trial judge Mr Justice McFarland determined that the jury should be discharged. The case was listed again today at Belfast Crown Court and was due to proceed as a re-trial on the murder charge. Before a new jury was sworn, defence barrister Brian McCartney KC addressed Mr Justice McFarland and asked that his client be re-arraigned on the single charge. Baird was then asked to stand and after confirming his identity to a court clerk, he was charged that on August 16, 2020 he murdered his wife Susan Baird. When asked how he pleaded, Baird replied: "Not guilty to murder, guilty to manslaughter by way of diminished responsibility." Prosecution barrister Rick Weir KC said that after considering "further psychiatric evidence," the Crown was now accepting the plea to manslaughter. Mr Weir also told Mr Justice McFarland that the Crown would be seeking Victim Impact Statements from Mrs Baird's family ahead of sentencing. The Judge directed that a Pre-Sentence Report be compiled and said the Probation Service should be provided with all the relevant psychiatric evidence regarding Baird. It was also confirmed that Baird does not have a criminal record but the Judge said the issue of dangerousness was "at play". As Mrs Baird's loved ones sat in the public gallery, Mr Justice McFarland set the date for sentencing. He then addressed Baird and said: "You will be remanded back into custody now and you will be sentenced on the 8th of July. "You will be contacted by the Probation Service and they will want to come and see you, either physically in custody or they may speak to you remotely." Following this, Baird was led from the dock and back into custody by prison staff.

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