Husband will not face trial over 'deadly' cuddle for dying wife

A DEVOTED husband who left his ailing wife with four cracked ribs after he hugged her one last time before her death will not face prosecution for murder.

The shadow of facing trial was lifted from father-of-two Gerard Finneran after Crown Prosecution Service lawyers decided not to bring charges.

Mr Finneran had cared for his wife of 34 years, Yvonne, while she was suffering from the debilitating neurological condition, motor neurone disease (MND).

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He told an inquest that he had wanted to give her one last hug before she died, but the pressure of the cuddle led to his 53-year-old wife suffering four cracked ribs.

The inquest in Sheffield heard a pathologist gave the cause of death as asphyxia because of compression of the chest.

Mr Finneran, 56, was arrested two days before his wife's funeral on suspicion of murder after he rang a national newspaper about the death.

A reporter from the newspaper met Mr Finneran then alerted the Sheffield coroner who called in the police.

Mr Finneran, whose wife had discussed ending her life at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland with him, was interviewed three times after she died on May 10 last year.

A file was sent to Crown Prosecution Service lawyers who took nearly a year to decide not to bring any charges.

Mr Finneran, of Ranmoor, Sheffield, told the inquest on Friday that he had no intention of assisting his wife's death.

He had helped his wheelchair-bound wife into a toilet at Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital after she had refused to be fed via a tube a few days before.

He told how he lifted her head to ease her breathing with one arm and put his other arm under her shoulder and began to hug her.

As she battled for breath she managed to blurt out, "This is it, I'm going" and "I love you".

He said: "I didn't want to see her struggle. I just wanted to say goodbye. I don't know whether I took a minute off her life or longer.

"I don't know whether it was an assist or not. Did I hold her too tight to say goodbye? I just don't know."

Coroner Chris Dorries asked Mr Finneran if he thought he could have cracked the ribs during a hug. He replied: "Yes, it would be possible."

He said he believed that she was dying, but when asked if he had any intention of shortening her life, he replied: "No."

He claimed he had contacted the newspaper because he wanted to highlight the devastating impact of MND and at the time he was feeling guilty about his wife's death.

He added: "I thought, 'Did I kill her?' I was unsure."

The inquest heard Mrs Finneran had osteoporotic bones which could easily have been damaged with moderate force during resuscitation attempts or lifting.

She also had the potential to suffer a cardiac arrest at any time because of the symptoms of the disease.

The coroner claimed the evidence did not approach proof beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Finneran's actions led to his wife' death.

While he concluded the injuries were caused by the hug on the balance of probabilities, he stressed it was "perfectly possible" that Mrs Finneran simply succumbed to MND.

Recording a narrative verdict, he claimed the cause of death was "not wholly ascertained".

After the hearing, Det Sgt Mark Cockayne, who investigated the incident, said: "It is an extremely tragic case and the family want closure. It has been a harrowing experience for them.

"We fully respect the decision of the CPS."