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Transgender carer who murdered her MS sufferer father with a plastic bag claiming it was a mercy killing is jailed for a minimum of four years

  • Claire Darbyshire killed father Brian, claiming it was part of a suicide pact 
  • She was later found on clifftop, saying: 'I'm scared to go through with it'  
  • 36-year-old had written a note which said: 'He asked me to help him end it'
  • Judge jailed her for a minimum of 4 years accepting she believed it was a mercy killing
Darbyshire, a pre-op trangender woman, will continue to be held in male jail
A transgender woman convicted of murdering her father by suffocating him with a plastic bag was jailed for life today - but must only serve a minimum of four years.

Claire Darbyshire, 36, killed MS-sufferer Brian Darbyshire, 66, who she cared for full time at the home they shared in Dagenham, Essex.

Today Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC, jailed her for life with a minimum term of four years, saying he accepted that she believed it was an act of mercy.

It is one of the shortest life sentences handed down in legal history - and she will only be released if she can convince a parole panel she is unlikely to re-offend.

Darbyshire's bed-bound father's decomposing body was not discovered until a week later when concerned neighbours prompted police to force entry to his home.

His killer was found wandering on the White Cliffs of Dover, where Darbyshire told a National Trust officer: 'I want to break my body, but I'm too scared to go through with it.'

A note written by Darbyshire found near her father's body said: 'If it was an animal then you would stop its suffering, but when it comes to a member of your own species, you want to prolong the suffering as long as possible.

'We have the cheek to call ourselves "civilised". Don't waste your time looking for me.'

Darbyshire added: 'Also, just to avoid any confusion on your part, I am pre-op transsexual.'

Afterwards, she claimed they had made a 'suicide pact' as his illness had become intolerable and she did not want to go on without him.

But following a trial at the Old Bailey, a jury found Darbyshire guilty of murder - rejecting the lesser offences of manslaughter or assisting a suicide.

Mr Justice Hilliard said the key to the case was that she failed to establish that her father had agreed she would also kill herself in a suicide pact.

He said: 'You gave evidence in the case and I accept your evidence that your father did raise the question of ending his own life and he wanted to do that and wanted your help to do so.'

But he added she had unlawfully killed her father behind 'closed doors' and no defences to murder applied.

Widower Mr Darbyshire developed MS in 1995 and in 2014 the defendant took over as his sole carer.

Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC told jurors that Mr Darbyshire, a retired Ford stock controller, had not expressed any suicidal thoughts or complained about being in pain to nurses who visited him.

Medical records revealed he had episodes of 'bad temper and aggression', but had never tried to kill himself.

Darbyshire complained to a friend about having to look after him and appeared to be getting more and more stressed.

After the killing, she caught a train to the Dover area, having texted the district nurse to visit 'asap'.

On the evening of September 3, Darbyshire approached a National Trust worker on the cliffs for help and ended up with support services in Canterbury.

Five days later, she mentioned the suicide pact for the first time, saying they had both taken an overdose which failed to work on September 1, before she suffocated her father.

On the morning of September 10 - eight days after the killing - police discovered Mr Darbyshire's body in his bed with a suit, teddy bear and various handwritten notes nearby.

The defendant wrote: 'Dad couldn't go on any more being bedbound. He asked me to help him end it. Now I have to end it too as my action is claimed as a crime.

'If it was an animal then you would stop its suffering, but when it comes to a member of your own species you want to prolong the suffering as long as possible.

'We have the cheek to call ourselves civilised. Don't waste your time looking for me. My phone call to the district nurse was my last action.'

Following her arrest, Darbyshire told police that she had planned to hand herself in the next day and a signed account was found among her belongings.

Darbyshire, who is pre-operative transgender, spent five months on remand in a men's prison awaiting trial and is expected to stay in the male system.

Detective Inspector Sarah McConnell, the investigating officer for the Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: ;It is always difficult for those involved when a person loses their life, whatever the circumstances, and this case raises a number of sensitive issues.

The reclusive lifestyle that Brian and Claire Darbyshire had lived for a number of years, means it is difficult to fully understand their precise situation.

However, after considering all of the evidence in this case the jury returned a unanimous verdict of murder which has been welcomed by the remaining family of Brian Darbyshire.'

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by DAILYMAIL
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length


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