A JUDGE has ruled that an elderly man, accused of murdering his wife, is not fit to stand trial.

At a hearing at Manchester Crown Court frail 88-year-old Arthur Heywood sat in the dock as a psychiatrist told Judge Alan Conrad QC that Heywood has deteriorating dementia and would not be able to follow evidence at a trial or understand legal complexities.

At the end of the half hour hearing, Judge Conrad stated: “I am entirely satisfied that this defendant is unfit to stand trial.”

Heywood was due to go on trial next month but, instead, there will be a trial of facts where, although the pensioner cannot be convicted of any offence, a jury will decide whether he killed his wife, Barbara.

Mrs Heywood, aged 80, was found dead at their home in Ramsay Avenue, Farnworth, on the morning of March 27.

Heywood arrived at Manchester Crown Court for the fitness to plead hearing walking slowly, using sticks and was accompanied by staff from Kemple View hospital, Langho, which caters for men with mental illness or personality disorder, and where Heywood was sent following his arrest.

Giving evidence about his condition to the judge, neuro-psychiatrist Dr Czarina Kirk said she had interviewed Heywood twice and agrees with colleagues that he has dementia, possibly a vascular form of the illness which was potentially caused as a result of chronic kidney failure.

She added that Heywood is likely to have been suffering from dementia prior to February when the pensioner was admitted to hospital suffering from acute delirium caused by an infection.

After his arrest he was also diagnosed as suffering from delirium.

Dr Kirk said that Heywood would not be able concentrate during a trial.

“On several occasions during my interview he did not quite understand the question I was asking,” she said.

“Giving evidence would be very difficult for him.”

She added that she and a colleague had asked Heywood about his understanding of the terms “guilty” and “not guilty”.

“Mr Heywood had a very rudimentary and basic understanding of those concepts but his overall presentation and ability to understand and to retain and to weigh up more complex legal issues, he would really struggle to understand those,” she said.

Both prosecution and defence agreed that Heywood should not stand trial.

“It is clear from what I have been told and have read that he would be unable to follow proceedings during a trial and he would be unable to give of his best giving evidence,” said Judge Conrad.

The trial of facts is due to begin on December 10.

In such a procedure a defendant can be acquitted but, even if they are found to have been responsible for an offence, they cannot be sent to


Instead a judge can consider imposing a number of treatment orders.