AN 80-year-old woman who survived a double suicide pact told how her husband died with a single tear rolling down his cheek.
Grieving widow Mavis Eccleston, 80, was acquitted last week of killing Dennis, 81 – her husband of nearly 60 years – after the couple had agreed to take a lethal cocktail of drugs to end their lives together.
After swallowing the cocktail, she tucked him up with a blanket and he said: “Goodnight, darling.”
He died later in hospital – but Mavis survived.
In a case which has shone a light on the assisted dying debate, Mrs Eccleston has said in an emotional interview she does not regret assisting her cancer-stricken husband to die, but she was annoyed to wake up in hospital and realise her attempt at suicide had failed.
“My life was nothing without him, so I didn’t care about living. If Dennis asked me to do it all again today, I would,” Mrs Eccleston said in the interview, which appeared in the Mail on Sunday and the Sunday Mirror.
“I wanted to be with my husband. You wouldn’t let an animal suffer the way Dennis was suffering.
“I don’t regret what I did and wouldn’t change what happened. I live with a very contended family and I am happy for them – but I would still rather be with Dennis.”
Mrs Eccleston said it was in 2015 that her husband – who she married in 1958 – told her he intended to end his life rather than live through his deteriorating bowel cancer.
She said she had replied: “If that’s the way you are going then I am coming too.”
In February last year, Mrs Eccleston penned a long suicide note to their family, and then the couple attempted to take their own lives.
“Goodnight darling,” were Mr Eccleston’s last words, to which Mrs Eccleston said she replied, “Goodnight, God bless”.
Hours later, Mrs Eccleston woke up in hospital, alongside her husband, who was soon to die.
“When I saw the nurses around me, when I realised I hadn’t died, I felt…well, very annoyed,” she said.
30 HOURS IN CELL
Mrs Eccleston, from Cannock, Staffordshire, said what followed was a series of indignities.
She spent 30 hours in a police cell after being taken from hospital in her slippers and dressing gown and accused of murder.
She said police also denied her access to a proper toilet after she complained of feeling uncomfortable using the prison-style toilet in her cell.
The OAP was also left in tears when a psychiatric nurse allegedly told her in her hospital bed: “We have got to wait for the police because you have murdered your husband and you are going to prison for a long, long time.”
Mrs Eccleston said her late husband was “honest, honourable and hard-working…a man who above all else loved his wife and family”.
He was also a profoundly dignified man who refused treatment for his cancer, and who wanted to die privately, “without having to be a burden on anyone”.
Campaigners said the case showed reform was needed on the issue of assisted dying.
Sarah Wooton, chief executive of Dignity In Dying – which campaigns for the legalisation of assisted suicide, told the Mail on Sunday: “Our broken law has forced a dying man to end his own life in secret, and threatened his devoted wife of 60 years with life imprisonment for acting purely out of love. An honest, caring family has been dragged through hell for the last 18 months.”
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Mrs Eccleston endured 18 months of further torment before her trial and acquittal.
Staffordshire Police declined to answer questions over Mrs Eccleston’s treatment but they released a statement – where they spelled her name wrong.
It said: “We are not aware of any concerns raised by Mavis Ecclestone (sic) or her family about the way that she was treated by anyone in Staffordshire Police.
“If Mrs Ecclestone or her family would like to discuss any concerns with us we would encourage them to get in touch.”
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