Family’s concern over father who moved to Wisbech after being charged with wife’s death but then died from fall

Poppyfields, Eynesbury, St Neots, where Mr and Mrs Constant lived. The husband - who later moved to

Poppyfields, Eynesbury, St Neots, where Mr and Mrs Constant lived. The husband - who later moved to Wisbech - was accused of his wife's murder but he died before he could stand trial for murder. Their family has questioned the CPS to prosecute. - Credit: Archant

A family caught up in the double tragedy of their parents’ deaths have questioned why their father was charged over their mother’s death.

Retired company director Brendon Constant moved to Wisbech after he was arrested for murdering his wife and then released on bail; he died following a fall.

He had appeared before Cambridge Crown Court in April accused of murdering his 86-year-old wife Jean at a care home in St Neots on August 22 last year.

The family said Mr Constant was the survivor of a suicide pact and was planning to admit to the lesser charge of manslaughter when the case returned to court.

However the crown court was told this week that he fell on April 27 after a family birthday celebration and died – his barrister insisted there was no suggestion he took his own life.

His family issued a statement saying they were “extremely disappointed by the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute our father over the circumstances in which our mother died.

“We cannot understand why he was charged with murder - the evidence did not support that charge in our view”.

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They said at the time of their father’s death, the CPS was in the process of considering a lesser charge of manslaughter “based upon our father being the survivor of a suicide pact.

“Further, we cannot understand why it was deemed to be in the public interest to prosecute. Our father was 87 years old at the time he intended to die. He never anticipated that he would survive beyond August 22, 2016.

“He was resuscitated by paramedics who attended and subsequently took him to hospital.”

The statement said: “Our father co-operated fully with the police investigation of our mother’s death. He did not, to the end of his life, accept that he was guilty of any criminal offence.

“He was willing to plead guilty to manslaughter in order that proceedings could be concluded and he could resume what was left of his life.

“The impact of the prosecution was considerable and he was greatly distressed at the thought that there would be a further, public invasion into a life that he wished would remain private.

“On April 28, 2017, our father died as a result of head injuries suffered during a fall at his son’s home.

“We remain extremely grateful to all those in the police, the NHS, the paramedics and the staff at Addenbrooke’s Hospital who cared for our father and treated him with compassion, respect, courtesy and kindness to the end.”

Mr Constant appeared before Cambridge Crown Court accused of murdering Jean Constant on August 22 last year.

Judge David Farrell QC adjourned the hearing and granted Mr Constant bail, with the conditions that he did not go to Poppyfields Care Home or contact staff at the home.

Constant was arrested on suspicion of murder following an incident at Poppyfields, a sheltered housing complex in Eynesbury.

A post mortem, carried out by Dr Nat Cary concluded Mrs Constant died from plastic bag asphyxia in association with heart disease.

Her husband was taken to Addenbroke’s Hospital, Cambridge, to be treated for his injuries.

The couple had moved to Eynesbury near St Neots in 1980 from their former home in Ashford, Kent.

During this week’s hearing Judge David Farrell expressed concerns over the fact Mr Constant had been bailed and fell.

Frank Ferguson for the CPS said: “We considered the public interest in this case very carefully given Mr Constant’s age and the alleged motive for his actions. This included contacting his family so that we were aware of their views.

“However, we were satisfied there was sufficient evidence to show that Mr Constant had killed his wife unlawfully, with the intention required for murder. In these circumstances it would be highly unusual not to pursue a criminal prosecution. We were not aware of any medical reasons that would have prevented Mr Constant from standing trial.

“The function of the CPS is not to decide whether a person is guilty of a criminal offence, but to make fair, independent and objective assessments about whether it is appropriate to present charges for a jury to consider. However we fully appreciate the sensitivities of such cases and our thoughts are with Mr Constant’s family at this time.”

Mr Ferguson is the deputy chief crown prosecutor for CPS East of England.

The CPS explained on on April 27 they received an indication from solicitors representing Mr Constant that he would plead guilty to manslaughter.

They contacted Cambridge Crown Court the next day to ask for the hearing listed for May 3 to be put back a week to allow them to consider this.

There is to be a further hearing at Cambridge Crown Court within the next 14 days for formal notification of Mr Constant’s death to be put before the court.