Retired actor receives 12 month sentence for killing terminally ill wife


Stuart Mungall smothered his wife Joan in their Tooting home in December last year.


By Natasha Barr

A retired actor received a suspended 12 month sentence yesterday for killing his terminally ill wife at their Tooting home.

Stuart Mungall, 71, of Hendham Road, Tooting, smothered his wife Joan Mungall, 69, with a pillow at their home on December 3rd last year.

Mungall, who appeared in Yorkie bar adverts during the 70s, was originally charged with murder but admitted he was guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Psychiatrists found Mungall was suffering from a depressive episode at the time.

Mrs Mungall was diagnosed with a degenerative brain disorder in June 2009, later found to be Pick’s disease.

By the autumn of 2010 she was completely dependent on her husband. The stress of caring for his wife lead to Mungall’s depression and ultimately his wife’s death.

Although Mungall was spared time in prison he will be placed under supervision for the two suspended years to ensure his condition does not return.

The Recorder of London, Judge Peter Beaumont QC, said: “It was a very difficult sentencing exercise for the court.”

It was made evident during the trial that Mrs Mungall had expressed she wished to die.

When police arrived to their Tooting home in December 2010 Mungall said: “She’s not in pain anymore. She was in such pain last night.”

Pro euthanasia group Dying in Dignity spokesperson Jo Cartwright said: “It was quite right that Mr Mungall was treated with compassion.”

And the case provides an argument for changing the laws on assisted suicide.

“If the law was changed there would be more transparency and open discussion so doctors can discuss options. If doctors would have been able to talk about options with Mr Mungall they may have been able to intervene and offer support.”

However anti-euthanasia charity, Care Not Killing, believes the solution is to promote better palliative care.

Charity Director Dr Peter Saunders said: “The law prohibiting intentional killing must be upheld.

“The penalties act as a strong disincentive to exploitation and abuse whilst giving some discretion to judges in sentencing to allow for mitigating circumstances in hard cases.”

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