Man poisoned wife for 'a rest'
A HUSBAND gave his wife six times her proper dose of morphine so he "could have some peace and quiet".
Stephen Hirst, 53, of Hatherleigh Road, Exeter, was jailed after pleading guilty to administering a poison with intent to cause his wife injury.
Exeter Crown Court heard that Hirst was a carer for his 42-year-old wife, who is a double amputee. He substituted her medication for two identical-looking tablets that each contained a 60mg dose of morphine rather than the usual 10mg.
He put her to sleep for a day and later told police he wanted to get some rest from months of quarrelling and bickering.
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Hirst was arrested after his wife awoke from the stupor and he told her what he had done. She called NHS Direct for advice and they called paramedics and the police. The couple are now getting divorced.
Hirst also admitted four charges of possessing or making indecent images of children.
A detective who worked on the investigation said it was an unusual case.
Detective Constable Tobie Carter told the Echo: "I have never investigated anything like this before – certainly not involving morphine.
"We spoke to Mrs Hirst to get her account and had to gather information on her medical history.
"Over the last five to six years, she had built up an intolerance to morphine. The dose of 120mg would ordinarily have killed most people but she had a tolerance to it – she was lucky.
"We had to look at the medical side of things very carefully.
"We had to get an expert to look at the dose given to her and compare that to her normal dose.
"The fact she was an amputee had to be taken into account as there is less blood circulating around her body so that would make an overdose even more dangerous.
"Unfortunately, we couldn't show that the increased dose had endangered her life but he did admit a lesser charge.
"He has been convicted and she has closure."
He added: "As part of the investigation, when we got to the scene we had to look at whether he had planned or researched the effects of administering such a large dose.
"We seized his computer and phone for those reasons alone.
"There was no evidence to suggest it was pre-planned but we did find indecent images of children on his computer."
Hirst was jailed for 13 months at Exeter Crown Court where Judge Philip Wassall told him: "You deliberately administered a toxic substance which is a class A drug and that is an aggravating feature.
"You gave her six times the proper dose but the background is that she had been prescribed that amount at an earlier date. It is accepted there was no intention to kill her or inflict really serious harm.
"We are dealing with the administration of a toxic substance which carried a risk. You used it simply to shut her up so you could have some peace and quiet, so it is a serious offence."
David Bowen, prosecuting, said: "The defendant had substituted the 10mg tablets for 60mg ones, so she took a dose of 120mg instead of the intended 20mg. She started to feel unwell.
"She challenged her husband about the over dosage and he admitted what he had done but could not give her a reason.
"She was so unwell she phoned NHS Direct and they called the police. He was asked if he had tried to kill her and he said no and said she had been in a lot of pain.
"He admitted what he had done to police and said he required respite from his caring duties. The victim suffered no long-term effects."
David Evans, defending, said Hirst was struggling to cope with his duties as a carer and gave her the drugs to give himself a break from their constant arguments.
A total of 139 images of naked children which rated at the lowest levels of child pornography were found on Hirst's laptop.
The couple are now divorcing and Hirst is living with his 87-year-old mother in Leeds.