The family of pensioner David Paterson today said his murder at the hands of his friend as he lay dying in a care home bed had “deprived them of the opportunity to grieve”.
The “deeply religious pensioner” was smothered with a pillow by Heather Davidson, who he’d met at a church group in Thirsk and came to see him regularly at a local care home.
Mr Paterson, a widower whose condition deteriorated after the death of his wife of 51 years, had terminal cancer and was said by a doctor to be near death when he was murdered.
In a statement released today, Mr Paterson’s family said he was a “strong character, great fun and outwardly very sociable”, but “inwardly was an incredibly private and guarded person”.
The statement said: “We all knew of, and deeply respected his deeply held Christian beliefs. We are, and Uncle David, would have been horrified that someone he classed as a friend and who he thought shared his Christian values, would have acted in this way.
“[Davidson] should have known he would have wanted it to be God’s will when he died and allowed him to do so in privacy and with dignity. She had no right to do this to him.
“We were anticipating a funeral that would be a celebration of his life but instead of having the space and time to remember all the good he brought, this has thrown our lives and thoughts into chaos.
“We have been deprived of the opportunity to grieve as we should have. We all have moments considering the horror or Uncle David’s last few minutes and console ourselves with the thought that as he had been almost unconscious for most of the time, he would hopefully not have known anything about it.
“Our over-riding emotions are of shock and horror, and we all want to know why this happened. It makes no sense at all.
“Heather Davidson was a church-goer, a person Uncle David has helped, a person he trusted and considered a friend, she has taken away our opportunity to grieve for him, as we had the right to do.
“All the attention into his private and personal affairs is the last thing he would have wanted, He did not have a lot of dignity at the end.
“Davidson took away the last remnants of this and thrust him and his life into the limelight. She had no right to do that, and for all of us, including Uncle David, we want to know why.”
Detective Chief Inspector Dave Ellis, of North Yorkshire Police’s Major Crime Unit, the senior investigating officer in the case, said: “Today our thoughts remain with Mr Paterson’s family, who have had to endure the intrusion of a criminal investigation at an already distressing time in their lives.
“Heather Davidson has claimed her motivation for murdering David Paterson was mercy killing, however in the eyes of the law and David’s family, her actions were murder.
“David Paterson was a deeply religious man who had made his peace with God in anticipation of his death due to terminal illness. The dignity he should have had in meeting death on his own terms was taken away from him by a woman he trusted as a friend and whom he had helped in the past.
“David’s family have had to deal with the trauma caused by Heather Davidson, when instead they should have been able to grieve normally and celebrate their uncle’s life.”