David McLean: Former Winchester mayor tried to smother his mother to death to end her suffering, court hears

A former mayor tried to "speed up his mother's demise" by smothering her with a cushion because he "couldn't stand" to watch her "suffering", a court heard.

David McLean, 72, is on trial after being charged with the attempted murder of 92-year-old Margaret McLean at her home in Waltham Chase, Hampshire, in the early hours of 7 October 2022.

The former mayor of Winchester told the court he said "I'm sorry mum" as he pressed the pillow over her face as she was "suffocating in her own snot" while receiving end-of-life care.

Jodie Mittell, prosecuting, said McLean later told NHS call operators and the police that he "couldn't stand" watching her suffering and had picked up a cushion before attempting to smother her for "15 seconds".

Ms Mittell said the prosecution does not allege that McLean's actions caused his mother's death although she had died at about the same time.

She told Winchester Crown Court: "This is on any view a sad case.

"The defendant in this case is David McLean, an upstanding member of the community, someone of impeccable good character, in fact he was formerly the mayor of Winchester."

Ms Mittell said Mrs McLean had been attended to by a number of carers in the days before her death.

She added that McLean had been keeping a bedside vigil for her "precisely because those professionals thought she may be about to die".

Ms Mittell continued: "Sadly Mr McLean tried to speed up his mother's demise, using a pillow he attempted to smother her.

"A significant amount of the evidence comes from Mr McLean's own admissions, his confession, guilt-ridden no doubt, about what he had done.

"Mrs McLean was suffering from a number of medical conditions which were expected to mean she would pass away imminently.

"The prosecution doesn't suggest Mr McLean caused her death, plainly she could have died any time because of these conditions."

'I had to do it'

Ms Mittell said that when McLean dialled the NHS 111 number he told the operator that his mother was "dying and I helped her".

He went on to say: "I had to kill her, I had to, she was suffocating in her own snot."

Ms Mittell said that McLean told the operator he had "put a cushion over her face", and added: "I know that puts me as a murderer but f****** get on with it, do your own shit."

He also told the operator: "I had to do it to stop her suffering."

Ms Mittell said that McLean made further admissions to police as he was arrested.

When interviewed, he told officers: "I thought I would send her off, I couldn't live with myself watching her drown.

"I can't remember where the cushion came from but I can remember putting it over her face and saying 'I am sorry mum'."

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Ms Mittell added that McLean said that he had acted out of "pure unadulterated love" for his mother and to "end her suffering".

She added that McLean had said his mother was in "obvious pain" and had given out a "scream of anguish" and he had added: "I just couldn't stand it."

The prosecutor told the court McLean had recently recovered from COVID-19 at the time of his mother's death and had also drunk two or three "tiny" glasses of whisky with water.

She added that he had told police: "The fact I had COVID and a drink doesn't make a blind bit of difference to how things turned out."

The judge, Mrs Justice McGowan, told the jurors: "It is pure coincidence that there is a debate in the House of Commons today on assisted dying and assisted suicide.

"This is not what this case is about and this will have no impact on this case at all."

McLean, of Morley Drive, Bishop's Waltham, denies the charge and the trial continues.