A former Sandy company director accused of murdering his wife by smothering her with a plastic bag has died before his court case could be heard.
Brendon Constant, 87, was charged with the murder of his 86-year-old wife Jean at a care home in Cambridgeshire.
Cambridge Crown Court heard on Wednesday that Mr Constant had attempted to kill himself as well in a murder-suicide in August last year, but survived and faced court proceedings.
Sally Hobson, the barrister representing Mr Constant, said he died after a fall at home on April 27 after celebrating his grandson’s birthday.
She said there was “no suggestion that Mr Constant took his own life” while awaiting his court date. “He was able to join in a celebration of his grandson’s birthday then when he retired to bed he spoke briefly to his great-granddaughter, wished her a good night then went upstairs and fell,” she said.
“He suffered catastrophic head injuries.”
Mr Constant was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and his family agreed to switch off his life support machine the following day.
“He had hoped to end his life together with his wife in August last year in circumstances they hoped would cause the least distress and discomfort,” said Ms Hobson.
“Unfortunately it’s ended in a murder charge.
“It’s a very sad end to his life but I’m told by his children that they take comfort that their father did not suffer at the end.”
Judge David Farrell voiced concerns over the fact Mr Constant had been granted bail and fell at home.
“Everyone thought he was in a safe environment so I’m concerned all proper care was given to him,” he said.
Mr Constant’s two sons sat in court during the brief hearing.
Ms Hobson told the judge: “They will want to reassure you that every care was taken with their father.”
A post-mortem examination concluded that Mrs Constant died of plastic bag asphyxia in association with heart disease. Her body was discovered by police who were called to Poppyfields care home in Chapman Way, Eynesbury, near St Neots, on August 22.
Mr Constant, of Richmond Road, Wisbech, did not enter a plea to the murder charge before his death.
Brendon Constant’s family released a statement on Wednesday, claiming he was the survivor of a suicide pact.
It read: “We cannot understand why he was charged with murder - the evidence did not support that charge in our view.
“At the time of our father’s death, the CPS were in the process of considering a lesser charge of manslaughter, based upon our father being the survivor of a suicide pact.
“Further, we cannot understand why it was deemed to be in the public interest to prosecute. Our father was 87 years old at the time he intended to die.
“He never anticipated that he would survive beyond the 22nd August 2016. He was resuscitated by paramedics who attended and subsequently took him to hospital.”
Constant was found with “unspecified injuries” at the couple’s flat on August 22 and taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.
He was discharged a day later when he was taken into police custody for questioning.
His family also told how he fully co-operated with the police investigation into his wife’s death but was “greatly distressed” by the the upcoming court proceedings.
The statement added: “The impact of the prosecution was considerable and he was greatly distressed at the thought that there would be a further, public invasion into a life that he wished would remain private.
“We remain extremely grateful to all those in the police, the NHS, the paramedics and the staff at Addenbrooke’s Hospital who cared for our father and treated him with compassion, respect, courtesy and kindness to the end.”
The couple had two sons, Simon and John, and before their retirement, Constant was the director of a company in Sandy, while Jean ran a second hand pottery shop called Mainly Seconds.