A FORMER mayor of Winchester has been cleared of attempting to murder his terminally-ill mother after his case was thrown out.

David McLean, 72, was on trial at Winchester Crown Court charged with the attempted murder of 92-year-old Margaret McLean at her home in Waltham Chase in the early hours of October 7 2022.

The trial had heard that Mr McLean had confessed to smothering his mother in a call to the 111 service.

Mr McLean, of Morley Drive, Bishop's Waltham, was acquitted after the judge Mrs Justice McGowan told the jury there was not enough evidence to prosecute. 

READ MORE: Live court updates: Former Winchester mayor accused of killing dying mother

The judge said: “Having heard all of the evidence in the case and in particular the evidence of the psychiatrist that the confessions are not reliable, I have taken the view that there is not enough evidence for you to decide the case.

“Because of the expert evidence I have to take the decision from you.”

The judge added: “I'm sorry if there is an element of frustration in this, I'm sure you would have liked to see this through to the end. This has been a sensitive and unpleasant case.”

The jury was not called yesterday (May 8) due to legal arguments between barristers Jodie Mittell, prosecuting, and Sarah Jones KC, defending. Following this, it was decided the evidence was overwhelmingly in favour of the defence. 

On Wednesday, in the absence of the jury, Mr McLean's barrister, Sarah Jones KC, argued he was suffering from an 'acute stress reaction' at the time of the confessions - making them 'likely to be unreliable'.

Making a submission of no case to answer, she said: "The prosecution expert, that is uncontested evidence, [said] that these confessions are, on balance, likely to be unreliable.

"Their own expert was unable to give any expertise. The question is whether his memories are false or accurate, for things that are out of his control because of his acute stress reaction.

"He will not realise he is wrong, his mind has created a false memory to deal with his inability to lay down accurate memories."

Ms Jones had made a similar argument on the opening day of the trial, saying: "We say this prosecution should not have been brought. We say that the evidence any crime was in fact committed is absent, or so fundamentally flawed it should be disregarded."

"This prosecution, this entire case, is founded effectively entirely on the words of a grieving son undergoing an acute stress reaction in the aftermath of his beloved mother's death."

Prosecutors at the trial, which started on Monday, April 29, had accused the 72-year-old of smothering Mrs McLean with a cushion because he “could not stand to watch her suffering”.

Mrs McLean was undergoing end-of-life care and medics thought she was about to die, jurors were told.

The trial had been shown body-worn video filmed by a firearms officer called to the house because the death had been reported as a murder after McLean had told an NHS 111 operator that he had killed his mother.

Home Office forensic pathologist Dr Basil Purdue told the court, on May 7, that no found no evidence that the 92-year-old had been suffocated. He said: “There was no pathological evidence to confirm suffocation of any kind.

“There was no evidence that Margaret McLean had been a victim of an attack before she died.”

The jury was made up of eight men and four women. 

Mr McLean declined to speak to the Chronicle.