Mrs. May Brownhills 30-year-old son Dennis had the mental age of a small child and had to be attended to like a baby. And Dennis could not have had a more devoted mother. Then, in September, 1934, May, then 62, was told by a doctor that she must have an operation. She shook her head: there would be no one to care for Dennis, she pointed out.
The doctor replied, If we dont operate, you will be dead in six months.
May went home to Westminster Drive, Pannal, Harrogate, to think about it. On SEPTEMBER 17th she sent for the doctor and told him: I have put Dennis to sleep. I gave him one hundred aspirins and put a gas tube in his mouth.
At Leeds Assizes, where her trial had been delayed while she underwent her life-saving operation, the court heard medical evidence that the aspirins would produce a soporific effect and that the invalid man died a painless death through gas poisoning. May was found guilty but the jury strongly recommended mercy.
There seemed to be a case for an immediate release, but it was thought that the law ought to be vindicated by her detention for a short period. She was given three months in prison.