‘A pensioner accused of murdering his wife just five days into the first national lockdown, told police he snapped over struggling to sleep over financial worries and fears about coronavirus.’ (South Wales Argus Feb 10 2021)

Anthony Williams, 70 told officers that he had been tossing and turning all night and hadn’t been able to sleep for two nights. When his wife, Ruth, woke up he told her how he was feeling and she said, ‘come on, get over it’.  He started screaming and she tried to calm him down, but instead he put his hands around her throat and began to strangle her. She managed to get away from him but he chased her downstairs and choked her to death. He told police he meant to kill her and then to kill himself, but couldn’t do it.

Asked about what was on his mind the night before he killed his wife he replied, ‘it’s everything… finances. One of the things I was worrying about was having to stay in as of Monday. It just dawned on me.’

He’d realised that he had only two pairs of shoes, one nearly worn out, and added, ‘it’s little things like that going on in your mind all the time.”

He was particularly upset that lockdown meant he could not go into his bank  and transfer monies over from his savings when necessary.  ‘I actually had transferred some money to my current account,’ he said, ‘I think about what if that was wiped out, what would I do?’  Also in the back of his mind was the coronavirus,

Living in lockdown with the perceived threat of death hanging over them has contributed to poor mental health in thousands of older people, according to experts.  Mr Williams is one of the victims.  He denies murder but admits manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

There are nearly 8 million over 70s in the UK still self-isolating, but most don’t strangle their wives or husbands.  Two things stand out from Mr Williams story:  the thoughts racing through his brain,‘little things like that going on in your mind all the time,” and not being able to talk in depth about them to anybody.

It’s a great shame that he didn’t know about the telephone help lines like Age UK, Silverline, and Premier Christian Helpline.  It would help if  local authorities wrote to older people they know are shielding, with a printed card containing these numbers –

Premier Christian Helpline, open 9.00 am to midnight –   0300 111 0101

Silverline, the only 24 hour a day helpline –    0800 4 70 80 90

Age UK, open 7.00 am till 8.00 pm –   0800 678 1602 

The Samaritans – 24 hours a day –    116 123.

A reminder for Christians is that we are told to ‘take every thought captive to Christ.’  2 Corinthians 10:5.  Ask Him to sort them out for you – He’s available 24 hours, day and night.  Hopefully, most Christians also have people in their fellowships they can call.

Louise Morse

Louise Morse MA (CBT) is media and external relations manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. She is a writer and speaker, and author of books on issues of old age, including dementia, published by Lion Monarch and SPCK. She is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and her Masters’ dissertation examined the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia on close relatives.

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