Belfast Telegraph

I couldn't watch him suffer, Belfast man accused of trying to smother dad in care home told nurse, court hears

By Alan Erwin

A man charged with attempting to murder his dying father in a care home allegedly told staff he could no longer watch him suffer, the High Court has heard.

James Weir tried to suffocate the 90-year-old man last week after drinking beer and whisky at the residential facilities in Co Down, prosecutors claimed.

On Friday Weir, 66, of Manor Street in Belfast, was granted bail on condition that other family members must supervise any future contact with his father.

Police were called to Blair House Care Home in Newtownards on November 24 amid claims a nurse saw him holding a cushion over the alleged victim's face.

She believed it had been an attempt to suffocate the elderly man and removed the cushion, the court heard.

A crime scene was established and Mr Weir Snr moved to another bedroom before being taken to hospital.

According to Crown lawyer David McClean, the nurse claimed the accused told her he was sorry she had to witness an incident he thought had been the right thing to do for his father.

"He said he couldn't watch his father suffering any longer," the barrister added.

It was also alleged that he told his sister: "I tried to smother daddy... the nurse pulled the pillow off me."

Weir was arrested and claimed he couldn't remember the incident due to alcohol.

He informed police he had been on holiday in Turkey, drinking every day, and was made aware that his father was dying.

Mr McClean said Weir allegedly spent the night before the suspected murder bid drinking a carry-out of Guinness and whisky he brought into the nursing home.

Concerns were expressed that the defendant may act again while his father is receiving palliative care.

Defence counsel Conan Rea confirmed the alleged victim has dementia and was not believed to be conscious during the incident.

Weir's brother and sister had both left the room at the time he is accused of attempting to smother their father, the barrister said.

Mr Rea also stressed the defendant's family are all supporting him and want him out of custody.

Granting bail, Mr Justice McAlinden said: "This is obviously a tragic case."

He added: "My role here is to try and protect a very vulnerable individual who is at the end of his life, and at the same time allow his family the space to be able to deal with their situation."

Based on the exceptional circumstances identified, the judge decided Weir can also have contact with his father provided at least two other relatives supervise at all times.

He ordered: "Under no circumstances must Mr Weir bring any drink into the establishment where this elderly gentleman is presently being care for."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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