Published: 13 April, 2012
by DAVID ST GEORGE
POLICE who entered a Finsbury flat discovered the rotting body of its “dignified, pleasant and sociable” tenant, an 81-year-old widowed pensioner, jurors at the Old Bailey heard this week.
Devoutly religious Philimena Quinn had been strangled on her bed with her dressing gown cord by her son and carer, Thomas Quinn, who later suggested it was a mercy killing, said prosecutor Sarah Whitehouse.
Quinn, 51, denies murdering his mother at their home in Emberton Court, Tompion Street, between May 10 and June 25 last year, the day police arrived to check on her after they were alerted by a concerned priest who had not seen her for weeks.
The accused admits manslaughter, claiming that at the time he killed her he was suffering from a depressive illness.
Ms Whitehouse told the jury that the prosecution did not accept Quinn’s account of his relationship with the victim or that she had begged him to end her days because she was virtually housebound and in pain. She had been diagnosed with depression after suffering a stroke in 2008.
To cover up her disappearance, the accused pretended to neighbours and friends that Mrs Quinn had gone to visit relatives, the court heard.
Officers who arrived to investigate were immediately aware that there was a decomposing body and found Mrs Quinn’s bedroom door sealed with sticky tape.
Her son appeared to be “compassionate and caring”, said the prosecuting QC, but he was a heavy drinker.
“The reality of the relationship when doors were closed was rather different,” Ms Whitehouse said.
“In the months leading to her death a neighbour had heard shouting and domestic arguments. The relationship appeared to be a stormy one.”
The trial, in which psychiatrists will be called to testify on Quinn’s mental state, continues.