A man who knocked his wife unconscious with an iron then put her head in an oven and gassed her to death was found guilty but insane.
Early in 1942 Walter Bentick was discharged from the RAF due to his nerves and returned to his family at 61 Greenwich Road, Fazakerley. The 31 year old lived there with his 26 year old wife Pauline and two young children, aged two and three. The couple had their occasional quarrels, resulting frorm his medical condition, but were generally very happy.
On 25th April 1943 at around 10pm two of Pauline's sisters called round and were told by Walter that she had left him. An hour later, another sister called and demanded more answers, leading to Walter pointing to the kitchen and saying that she was in there. Her sister then found Pauline dead, her head resting on an open oven door. Walter said that they had been happy all afternoon but she had made him do it and he had been trying to die all afternoon but couldn't.
When Walter was questioned by police he told them that he had hit his wife with an iron and that he hadn't intended it. When his clothing was searched, what appeared to be a suicide note was found which read 'Please Pauline always look after the children, never forget that I always loved you and them. I will always be near you but do not forget me, I love you all, Wallie.' A post mortem was carried out which established that Pauline was pregnant and that the blow to the head had caused a fracture of the skull but carbon monoxide poisoning was the cause of death.
Walter was committed for trial at the Liverpool assizes, where he was defended by Rose Heilbron on 9th June. Pauline's sisters stated that she had told them Walter had been acting oddly in the preceding weeks, and that he was always fidgety on trams and often walked in circles around the bedroom at night. Miss Heilbron produced evidence that showed both Walter's father and brother had died in mental homes and two doctors who had examined him since the killing felt that he had suffered serious brain damage as a result of epilepsy.
Without leaving the box the jury returned a verdict of guilty but insane, leading to Walter being detained at His majesty's pleasure. He died in an asylum in Macclesfield in 1985.