Former councillor spared jail for killing abuser husband

The High Court in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin
The High Court in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin
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A former councillor who killed her husband of 50 years after he had been accused of sexually abusing children has been spared jail.

Susanne Wilson, 72, 
smothered 70-year-old Henry with a cushion at their home in Ayr last September.

Wilson had been a carer for her housebound husband, who suffered from chronic heart disease.

The court heard she had believed he wanted her to help him take his own life.

Wilson – who had previously been facing a murder charge – admitted culpable homicide at the High Court in Glasgow last month. Prosecutors accepted the plea on the basis of her diminished responsibility at the time due to the strain she was under.

When Wilson appeared for sentencing at the High Court in Dumbarton yesterday, judge Lady Rae said: “Mr 
Wilson suffered serious ill health both physically and mentally and it transpires he previously tried to commit suicide.

“In addition, you had been confronted with distressing information about the husband you had lived with and loved for 50 years.”

The judge said it was impossible to imagine the mental torment Wilson had been going through at the time she killed her husband and said it had clearly distorted her 
decision-making.

Lady Rae added: “While recognising that in most 
cases such a crime would 
merit a very significant custodial sentence, I am prepared in the unusual and complex circumstances of this case to impose a non-custodial 
disposal.

“There is no suggestion whatsoever that you are a risk to the public. I have come to the view therefore that 
punishment is not appropriate and having reached that conclusion I consider a community payback order is not 
justified nor is it required.”

Sentence was deferred until January for good behaviour and for Wilson to continue receiving psychiatric treatment.

Wilson had been a Labour councillor in Troon, South Ayrshire, in the late 1990s. The couple had three children but their eldest son Jonathan died in 2001 after battling cancer.

She first became aware of allegations that her husband, a retired Butlins shop manager, had sexually abused 
children in September 2015.

On 3 September last year, Mr Wilson suddenly asked her to contact one of his accusers. After calling them, his wife was described as being “very angry” and smacked her 
husband with a plastic jug, leaving him bleeding.

The court heard Mr Wilson then spoke about ending his life with drugs. His wife left out medication she had been prescribed but did not administer it to him and went to a 
neighbour’s home.

When she returned, she noticed her husband had taken some of the medication and was struggling to breathe. He reportedly said “Help me” as his breathing worsened and she took that as a request that she should help him die.

She then smothered him. The prosecutor said Wilson dialled 999 “to report what she had done”.