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Pensioner sentenced for manslaughter of wife
Friday 19th December, 2008

Pensioner sentenced for manslaughter of wife
Joan Holland

A pensioner has been sentenced for the manslaughter of his wife.

James Holland (born 13/03/1933) of Severn Drive, Norley Hall, Wigan, was carer to wife Joan, 72

On Monday 7 January 2008, he attacked Joan and she died.

Holland pleaded guilty to manslaughter at an earlier hearing and was today, Friday 19 December 2008, given a 51-week sentence, suspended for two years at Liverpool Crown Court.

In the early hours on Tuesday 8 January 2008, police went to the family home after ambulance crews found Joan lying face down on the bathroom floor. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

When quizzed by officers, Holland claimed he discovered her body at 3am when he got up to go to the toilet.

Inquiries by police established Joan suffered from Alzheimer's Disease and had a disorder that made her scratch her skin uncontrollably, causing her skin to cut and bleed, so it was highly unlikely she would have got up in the night to go to the bathroom by herself.

Neighbours also reported they heard a heated argument between the couple on Monday evening and later the sound of Joan screaming followed by intermittent banging which went on until 3am.

A picture was painted of Holland as a very controlling and domineering man. He had acted as his wife's carer for the past eight years and she was completely dependent on him to the point where he would need to help her out of bed in the mornings and would also bath, dress and feed her.

Holland was arrested and when interviewed, denied any wrongdoing. He said he had fallen on top of his wife when lifting her out of the bath.

A Home Office post-mortem examination discovered Joan had bruising to her head, jaw, both eyes, five wounds to the back of her head, grazes behind her ears, cuts on her upper lip, bruising and grazing to her neck, up to 70 bruises on her abdomen, chest, hips, shoulders and upper arms and a fractured sternum. The pathologist concluded she died as a result of extensive multiple injuries.

Detective Sergeant Gary Ashurst, from Wigan CID, said: "This is an absolutely tragic case.

"Holland was supposed to look after his wife and love her, but the post-mortem found that Joan died as a result of injuries sustained over many years.

"Holland's actions will haunt him forever."

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