“We cannot understand why he was charged with murder”: family of man, 87, accused of murdering wife speak out

PUBLISHED: 17:14 03 May 2017 | UPDATED: 15:22 04 May 2017

Poppyfields, Eynesbury,

Poppyfields, Eynesbury,

Archant

The family of an 87-year-old man accused of the murder of his wife who died just days before he was due to appear in court have questioned why he was charged.

Brendon Constant died following a “collapse and fall” at his son’s home following the celebration of his grandson’s birthday.

Constant, of Richmond Road, Wisbech, was arrested on August 22, last year, at Poppyfields Care Home, in Chapman Way, after the death of his wife Jean, 86.

A post mortem, carried out by Dr Nat Cary at Peterborough City Hospital, concluded Mrs Constant died from plastic bag asphyxia in association with heart disease.

Constant was bailed on April 5, and was due to appear at Cambridge Crown Court today (Wednesday) to enter a plea.

Peter Gair, prosecuting, however, told Judge David Farrell QC that Constant had died on April 28 at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge.

Constant’s family released a statement claiming that he was a survivor of a suicide pact.

The statement read: “We cannot understand why he was charged with murder - the evidence did not support that charge in our view.

“At the time of our father’s death, the CPS were in the process of considering a lesser charge of manslaughter, based upon our father being the survivor of a suicide pact.

“Further, we cannot understand why it was deemed to be in the public interest to prosecute. Our father was 87-years-old at the time he intended to die. He never anticipated that he would survive beyond the 22nd August 2016. He was resuscitated by paramedics who attended and subsequently took him to hospital.”

The statement added that Constant had “co-operated fully” with the police investigation and that he was “greatly distressed” by the court proceedings.

“The impact of the prosecution was considerable and he was greatly distressed at the thought that there would be a further, public invasion into a life that he wished would remain private. On the 28th April 2017, our father died as a result of head injuries suffered during a fall at his son’s home,” the statement added.

“We remain extremely grateful to all those in the police, the NHS, the paramedics and the staff at Addenbrooke’s Hospital who cared for our father and treated him with compassion, respect, courtesy and kindness to the end.”

The grandfather’s death has been reported to the coroner and it will be decided whether an inquest is required.

Frank Ferguson, deputy chief crown prosecutor for CPS East of England, said: “We considered the public interest in this case very carefully given Mr Constant’s age and the alleged motive for his actions. This included contacting his family so that we were aware of their views.

“However, we were satisfied there was sufficient evidence to show that Mr Constant had killed his wife unlawfully, with the intention required for murder. In these circumstances it would be highly unusual not to pursue a criminal prosecution. We were not aware of any medical reasons that would have prevented Mr Constant from standing trial.

“The function of the CPS is not to decide whether a person is guilty of a criminal offence, but to make fair, independent and objective assessments about whether it is appropriate to present charges for a jury to consider. However we fully appreciate the sensitivities of such cases and our thoughts are with Mr Constant’s family at this time.”

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