A SON who tried to suffocate his dying dad while he lay in a coma at the DGH has been jailed for six and a half years.
Joseph Peachey was convicted of attempted murder back in June when a jury at Lewes Crown Court delivered a unanimous verdict after hearing how a nurse walked in on him covering his father’s mouth and pinching his nose in December last year.
At the time Peachey denied he was trying to kill the 79-year-old – insisting he was instead checking his false teeth.
However, the same court heard least week how Peachey had come to terms with what he had done and had since acknowledged his guilt.
His dad, Albert Peachey, had been admitted to hospital for cancer treatment, only to suffer a series of falls and then a massive stroke – leaving him in a coma from which staff said he would not recover.
Kathryn Hirst, defending, told the court that Peachey had been ‘unable to admit to himself that that was something he had tried to carry out’, adding that the 49-year-old, of Badlesmere Road, was already struggling to deal with the recent death of his mother at the time his dad became ill.
“This is far more complicated than a mere suggestion of selfishness,” she told Judge Richard Hayward.
“He was very distressed and under a high degree of pressure.”
The court was then told that Peachey had a background of depression but had moved back in with his parents to try and look after them after the couple’s health took a turn for the worse because of what Ms Hirst called his “strong sense of duty”.
And his defence explained that he was desperate for his father to be allowed to leave hospital to die after his dad asked him to make sure he passed away at home and with dignity. That became an impossibility after the stroke – something Peachey found difficult to deal with.
Ms Hirst said, “He could not accept that his father was too ill to return home.”
Peachey then took the matter into his own hand, asking nurses to stop giving him oxygen before telling them he would remove the breathing mask himself. He was also heard urging his unconscious dad to ‘just die’.
That evidence had been enough to convict Peachey – whose dad died five days after his suffocation bid from unrelated problems. And on Friday he was jailed for six and a half years – six for the attempted murder (the lowest sentence available) and a further six months for subsequent attacks on staff and police who were trying to restrain him.
In fact, such was the furore following the failed attempt on Albert Peachey’s life, a team of firearms officers were called to the hospital while nearby patients were evacuated.
Peachey – who had already spent time in prison for a string of offences including attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm, possession of knives and affray – was only subdued when police used Captor spray and twice hit him with a Taser gun.
Explaining his decision, Judge Hayward told Peachey, “While I have no doubt that you were upset, your violent reaction, I’m satisfied, was also borne out of not being able to do what you wanted. Your father was completely vulnerable. He had absolutely no way of protecting himself and clearly such people must be protected from people who seek to end their lives prematurely.”