Murder suspect ‘worried over lump’

By Marion Brennan | Cannock | Crime | Published:

A pensioner had discovered a large growth on her husband’s body revealing the extent of his terminal cancer shortly before giving him an overdose of prescription drugs, a murder trial heard.

Mavis Eccleston outside Stafford Crown Court

Mavis Eccleston, aged 80, told psychiatric nurses that she noticed the swelling on his groin when she went to help him after he fell at their Cannock home in the early hours of February 19 last year.

Hospital notes recorded that she had been “extremely distraught” because she believed that husband Dennis, 81, had been trying to protect her from seeing the scale of his cancer and the pain he was in.

Cheryl Owen-Shale, senior mental health nurse at Stafford Hospital, said Eccleston then told her she had “wondered how she could help her husband” as she did not want to see him suffer anymore.

The jury heard she ground tablets into a paste which she gave him with a warm drink telling him it would “help him sleep” before taking the same mixture herself and lying on the living room sofa.

Eccleston told nurses that she did so “in order for her to die with her husband”.

Asked by Ms Owen-Shale whether Dennis had been aware that he was being given a potentially lethal dose, she replied “no”.

The couple were found hours later when family members called unexpectedly at their bungalow in Raven Close, Huntington. Dennis died the following day in hospital.

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The nurse told Stafford Crown Court that she was advised by her safeguarding senior to inform the police of Eccleston’s disclosure.

Afterwards she went with a colleague to tell the family, who had been waiting to take their mother home.

They had been upset but then turned hostile and verbally abusive, said Ms Owen-Shale.


She had been called to give Eccleston a mental health assessment. Eccleston later denied saying that her husband was aware she was giving him an overdose.

Eccleston denies murder and manslaughter.

The trial continues.

Marion Brennan

By Marion Brennan

News and features reporter, specialising in human interest and local history stories.

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