‘Mercy killing’: Rugby man jailed for 20 months


A Rugby man who twice tried to suffocate a seriously-ill friend in what was said to have been an attempt to assist him to commit suicide has been jailed.

Wayne Norman had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to the attempted murder of Michael Bryan on a date between August 27 and September 4 last year.

He had been due to be sentenced at the court last month, but the case was adjourned for him to be dealt with by a High Court Judge.

And at Nottingham Crown Court, Norman, 57, of Winfield Street, Rugby, was jailed for 20 months by Mrs Justice Kathryn Thirlwall.

She told him: “I accept that you genuinely believed that to kill a friend was an act of mercy, and I accept that he had asked you on a previous occasion to do so. Certainly I accept that you found it difficult to see him suffering in the way that he was.”

But she added: “What you did was wrong. As you knew, it was against the law. Having reflected upon the whole of the circumstances in the case, in my judgment I must send you to prison immediately.”

Norman had originally faced three similar charges, but at the earlier hearing prosecutor Iain Willis had applied to delete those further allegations.

He explained: “The Crown say and accept there were two incidents when attempts were made, but in reality it is a single course of conduct.”

Unrelated to Norman’s actions, 61-year-old Mr Bryan, of Sun Street, Rugby died in October last year – and Norman is said to have attended his funeral.

Told at the first hearing that there was a basis of plea, Judge Marten Coates had asked: “Was this done at the behest of the victim?”

When Andrew Jackson, defending, confirmed that it was, the judge commented: “It’s more like an assisted suicide, isn’t it?”

Norman had entered his plea on the basis that he had intended to kill Mr Bryan and had attempted to do so on two separate occasions.

On the first of those, at Mr Bryan’s home, he tried to suffocate Mr Bryan - but he gave up after only a few seconds, and he could not carry it out to completion. He tried once more, but again could not carry it through,

Norman said he had done so after repeatedly being asked by his friend to help him end his life.

Mrs Justice Thirlwall had been due to hear the case at Warwick Crown Court, but at the last minute it had to be moved to Nottingham where she was involved in a part-heard trial.

After hearing Mr Willis outline the case and Mr Jackson mitigate on behalf on Norman, Mrs Justice Thirlwall adjourned for more than 30 minutes to consider her sentence.

She granted Norman bail within the court building – but when he returned to the dock she told him there had to be an immediate custodial sentence.

And jailing him for 20 months, she also ordered him to pay a statutory £100 victim surcharge.