Woman with rare dementia to be detained at specialist hospital after killing husband
An 84-year-old woman who stabbed her 85-year-old husband to death in a seemingly “inexplicable” attack had been suffering from a rare, undiagnosed form of dementia, a court has heard.
Marjorie Grayson was ordered to be detained at a specialist hospital at Sheffield Crown Court (pictured) on Friday by a judge who heard how she stabbed him three times at their home in the city before calling 999 and saying: “I’ve just stabbed my husband, I think I’ve killed him.”
The judge, Mr Justice Nicklin, heard how the couple had been happily married for 60 years when they disagreed about whether they would go out or stay at home in their garden following a planned trip to the supermarket on September 13 last year.
He was told how Grayson picked up a kitchen knife in their home in Orgreave Lane, Handsworth, and stabbed Mr Alan Grayson once in the chest and twice in the back.
The judge told the defendant: “On the face of it, what you had done was inexplicable.
“There was no hint of any history between you which could have given rise to this killing.
“Neither family nor friends could provide any clue as to what may have triggered these tragic events.”
The judge said it was only after an investigation began that the family realised there had been “noticeable behavioural changes in the recent past”.
He said that neuropsychiatric experts decided that Grayson had behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia. This means that the frontal lobes of her brain had become damaged over time.
The judge said that this form of dementia causes individuals to behave in a manner which is “completely out of character”.
He said: “The neuropsychological assessments and the diagnoses of the doctors have provided answers which were totally missing at the time of arrest.
“The inexplicable could now be understood.”
Sentencing Grayson, who denied murder but admitted manslaughter by diminished responsibility at a previous hearing, the judge said: “This is a tragic case.
He said: “You have killed your husband. But, at the time, you had an undiagnosed form of a relatively rare form of dementia which affected your behaviour.
“I know that you are deeply upset about what has happened and that you miss your husband.”
Grayson, wearing a light blue cardigan over a purple top, waved at the many members of her family who packed the public gallery who blew kisses back to her.
She sat in the dock listening to proceedings with her grey hair in a pony tail and flanked by two security officers.
The judge said: “Members of your family have lost a father and grandfather but, despite this, your family have been entirely supportive of you throughout this case.”
He said that the couple’s son, Paul, had described how they were a close, loving couple who had a normal family life.
Reading from Paul Grayson’s statement, the judge said: “Throughout this traumatic and upsetting experience we always had Marjorie’s welfare as our foremost priority.”
He said: “Marjorie is also going through this profound experience and we don’t want her to go through this alone.
“Marjorie and Alan have always loved and supported us all and naturally we want to do the same for her. We know that this would be in accordance with Alan’s wishes too.”
He said the family wanted to be involved in planning Grayson’s future and added: “We hope in the future to be able to work with the relevant services to allow her to return to her loving family and her home, with us all by her side.”
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