Five years in jail for OAP who beat wife to death with walking stick in row over heating bill

29 October 2013  A PENSIONER who beat his 82-year-old wife to death with a walking stick after a row over the heating has been jailed.
Douglas Bailey, 79, was sentenced to five years in prison for 'brutally' killing his wife, Hazel Bailey, at their bungalow, Talybont, on Rilshaw Lane, Winsford, Cheshire,
He pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility at an earlier hearing at Chester Crown Court on Thursday, September 26.
Bailey admitted to police that he'd attacked his wife of 45 years following a row over a heating bill.
The 82-year-old's battered body was discovered with 59 separate injuries at the address when window cleaners called round at 3.40pm on September 7 2012.
Prosecuting, Simon Medland QC explained: "The window cleaners were expecting to have been paid by Hazel.
"They went to the door but she didn't come.
"Eventually, Mr Bailey answered the door. The window cleaners noticed he was in his pyjamas and that they were bloodstained."
Bailey paid them £20, and explained that he'd had a nosebleed.
"But they were not entirely satisfied, and very sensibly they went to a neighbour's and explained that they were concerned for Hazel Bailey," continued Mr Medland.
Carrying a gift of runner beans as an excuse for her visit, the neighbour went round, crossing the Baileys' garden to their back door.
Noticing the blood stained pyjamas, she asked after Hazel.
Bailey told the neighbour his wife was at her friend's house.
But after checking at the friend's, the neighbour returned to confront him again.
She noticed he had bruising to the right of his forehead, and again asked where his wife was.
Mr Medland said Bailey answered: "No, it's Hazel. She's dead and I've killed her. She's in the bedroom and she's dead."
Bailey seemed concerned about how they would move Hazel, before asking the question: "What about the central heating?"
Mr Medland explained that Bailey's concern about the heating was part of an 'obsession' to save money that had led to conflict between the couple in the past.
This, despite the couple having £68,000 in savings, no mortgage to pay, and tens of thousands of pounds worth of shares, said Mr Medland.
He added that witnesses reported seeing 'serious arguments' between the husband and wife.
In 2011, Hazel had called out for a neighbour who arrived to see Bailey punching his wife in the face. When challenged about it, he ran off into the bungalow, said Mr Medland.
Hazel would frequently be seen with bruises that both she and and her husband explained as accidents, having fallen into wardrobes or tripped over.
A postmortem of Hazel found she'd sustained 22 injuries to her head, three to her back, five to her neck, 13 to her left arm, nine to her right arm and seven to her right leg.
The blows were inflicted by a walking stick and she sustained a fractured spine when falling from her bed onto the floor.
Bailey then assaulted her again, hitting Hazel with such force that her false teeth were dislodged, lacerating her mouth.
The couple had been married 43 years.
Douglas Bailey, originally from Middlewich, wed Hazel when he was 33-years old, having returned from national service to work as a joiner. He built their bungalow after acquiring a plot of land off Rilshaw lane.
The couple were both retired and had no children.
Friends close to them described Bailey as having changed in the years before the attack, with his nerves getting the better of him and becoming very agitated and highly strung.
Hazel began to suffer with Sciatica in July 2012, which limited her mobility and she was assisted by a neighbour.
A police spokesman said Bailey 'did not appear to have any sympathy for her condition'.
At an earlier hearing, Bailey plead guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Recorder for Chester, Judge Elgan Edwards, said the murder charge would have stood if not for medical evidence supporting the view that Douglas Bailey was mentally ill.
In view of Bailey having been in custody for over a year already, Mohammed Khamisa QC, defending, asked for the court to consider Bailey's release to a secure hospital where he could be monitored as a medium risk patient.
But Judge Edwards said he would only be considering a prison sentence due to the severity of the killing.
Addressing Bailey, who looked gaunt and unshaven, stood in the dock wearing a blue sweatshirt, Judge Edwards said: "It's a tragedy to see you here at your age, but it's also a tragedy that your wife of so many years is now dead at your hands.
"It was correct of the prosecution to agree manslaughter rather than murder in the circumstances because of your medical condition, but it's still a very serious matter.
"This was a brutal attack on a vulnerable old lady of 82.
"The injuries she sustained to her head particularly were as a result of a brutal attack by you using a stick, hitting her again and again until she died.
"By your own admission there had been some domestic violence."
Passing a sentence of five years imprisonment, judge Edwards offered his condolences to the family of Hazel Bailey, many of whom we're present in the courtroom.
"I commend the family for the considerable dignity they have shown during what must have been a very distressing situation," he said.
Speaking after sentencing, Detective Inspector Helen Spooner of Cheshire Police said: "Hazel suffered a horrendous attack from a man who should have been caring and looking after her. "Our investigation has uncovered a history of domestic abuse between the couple, which unfortunately was never reported to police.
"Domestic violence is something that extends across all ages and unfortunately for Hazel the contact that would have resulted in the help and support available to anyone suffering domestic abuse was never made.
"I hope this case highlights how domestic abuse can escalate and the tragic consequences it can have if people suffer in silence."