A woman who admitted suffocating her violent 36-year-old son who suffered from Down syndrome was given a suspended jail sentence Wednesday. A judge at Oxford Crown Court ordered that the two-year sentence on Wendolyn Markcrow, 67, should be suspended for 18 months. She will not go to jail if she observes the law during that period.
The court heard that Markcrow had devoted her life to caring for her son Patrick, who also was autistic. But in 2004, after suffering years of violence and night's interrupted by her son's screaming, she suffocated him with a plastic grocery bag, then tried to kill herself by taking an overdose and cutting her wrists.
Justice Peter Gross told Markcrow that he had considered the unbearable pressure she suffered.
"You were at the end of your tether," Gross told her.
The court heard that on the night he died, Patrick had repeatedly hit himself in the face, shouted and refused to go to sleep, the AP reports.
Earlier in the week, Patrick had stormed out of an emergency meeting with a doctor. "Over the course of half an hour, Patrick punched his right eye absolutely as hard as he could around 20 times," the judge said.
"The doctor said he had not seen anything like this before and he had no idea how the mother could cope with it."
Two years ago, Patrick hit himself so hard in the face that he lost the sight of his right eye, prosecutor Nicholas Browne told the court. Patrick also regularly hit his parents, Browne said.
Patrick suffered from chronic insomnia, and often woke his parents with his screaming. Tranquilizers and spells of respite care had little impact.