A SENIOR detective has spoken of a family’s tragedy after a pensioner admitted bludgeoning his wife with a garden ornament and then stabbing her to death.
Frederick Gilliard, 75, admitted killing Josephine – his wife of 54 years – at their home on Links Road, North Shore, after suffering from a “depressive episode”.
Police found 74-year-old Mrs Gilliard, known as June to family and friends, face down in a bedroom with a carving knife next to her.
She had been hit over the head with a garden ornament in the shape of one of the monolithic stone statues on Easter Island, in the Pacific Ocean, and then stabbed numerous times.
Gilliard had previously denied murder and was due to stand trial this week.
But his plea of manslaughter was accepted on the grounds of diminished responsibility by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) at a hearing at Preston Crown Court yesterday.
The court heard psychiatric reports confirmed doctors believed he had “lost control” while suffering from depression.
Stuart Denney, prosecuting, said: “A report has concluded he was suffering a major depressive episode which caused a loss of control and in the opinion of the doctor, his responsibility for his acts was diminished.
“In consultation with family members and senior police we cannot properly reject the medical evidence on any other basis.
“It is an appropriate step to accept the plea.”
Recorder of Preston, Judge Anthony Russell, adjourned sentencing to allow for a third psychiatric report to be carried out to determine whether Gilliard should be jailed or sent to hospital.
He told the defendant: “I make it clear that whatever the outcome of this case, you will be detained one way or another for some considerable time.
“I need to make a decision whether that will be in hospital or in prison.”
Police were called to the couple’s home – close to Blackpool North Shore Golf Club – just before 10am on Sunday, February 5.
It is thought the attack happened that same morning in the bedroom.
A post mortem examination revealed Mrs Gilliard died as a result of multiple injuries, consistent with being stabbed repeatedly and struck to the head with a heavy object.
Det Supt Ian Critchley, who led the investigation for Lancashire Police, said: “Our thoughts throughout this tragic case have been with the family of Mr and Mrs Gilliard.
“We have sought to assist them throughout.
“Our sympathy is with the Gilliard family through this traumatic ordeal.”
The couple’s family said they were devastated by the tragedy following their mum’s death.
In a statement, released after Mrs Gilliard died, they said: “As a family we are stunned and devastated by this tragic turn of events involving both of our parents.
“We are an extremely close family and both mum and dad are loving and cherished parents.
“We are struggling to come to terms with the tragedy of the situation.”
Neighbours, who witnessed crime scene investigators at the property following the murder, described the Gilliards as “very friendly” and Mrs Gilliard as “a very intelligent lady.”
Gilliard will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court on August 17.