AN ELDERLY pensioner repeatedly stabbed his wife and told a 999 call handler, “I just want you to take her away” a court heard.

A jury at Manchester Crown Court was told that Arthur and Barbara Heywood’s 59 year marriage was failing and his is accused of murdering her on March 27, the day after their wedding anniversary.

Heywood, aged 89, has dementia and has been found unfit to plead and stand trial so, instead the jury will determine whether he was the person who stabbed 80-year-old Barbara to death at their Ramsay Avenue, Farnworth home.

During the opening of the trial of facts, Rob Hall, prosecuting, played a recording of the 999 call Heywood made at 8.09am.

Mr Hall told how Heywood was in the back ground floor room of the house next to his wife, who was lying face down on the floor, with her electric wheelchair beside her.

The 999 operator asked Heywood if she was awake.

“No,” he replied, adding “I’ve shoved a knife in her because she’s been a bad woman. I just want you to take her away.”

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He was heard to say, "she came down stairs, just started shouting and that and I stabbed her" and that he had stabbed her “in the belly”.

But when the operator repeatedly requested him to try and stop the bleeding he stated that she was too heavy for him to move.

Paramedics reached the house within eight minutes and found Mrs Heywood dead.

“Once they turned her over, they found that she had been repeatedly stabbed to her front and was dead,” said Mr Hall. “Death was formally pronounced at 8.18am.”

Mr Hall told the jury: "It is the Crown's case that Arthur Heywood stabbed Barbara Heywood to death as the last act of their failing marriage.

The couple had married on March 26 1960 and had three children, Michael, Yvonne and Joanne, who grew up and moved out of the semi-detached family home.

"It is fair to say that by the beginning of this year there were significant tensions between Barbara Heywood and Arthur Heywood," said Mr Hall.

"Some of those tensions had existed for many years and the cracks in their marriage were really starting to

show."

Both had failing health, with Mrs Heywood wheelchair-bound and partially reliant on her husband for care while he was beginning to show signs of dementia.

The court heard how, in February, he was admitted to hospital for several weeks due to his mental health.

Mr Hall said: "Whilst Arthur Heywood was in hospital, Barbara Heywood arranged for his beloved dog to be cared for elsewhere and it may be that that became a further grievance for Arthur Heywood. In addition, Barbara Heywood had become rather fixated in the belief that Arthur Heywood had a lot of money in savings that she wanted to gain access to."

Heywood was discharged from hospital seven days before his wife was killed and returned home against her wishes.

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"Such was the state of things that Barbara Heywood did not want Arthur Heywood living back at Ramsay Avenue," said Mr Hall.

"They were visited by support carers over the days that followed but, even with the tensions in the house, no one expected the events that would follow only days later."

After his arrest Heywood was not deemed fit enough to be interviewed by police until April 4, but he refused to take part in an interview.

"As such, Arthur Heywood has never been formally questioned by the police about the events of the morning of Wednesday March 27," said Mr Hall.

The trial continues.