A father who killed his terminally-ill son and then claimed it was a mercy killing walked free from court yesterday after being cleared of murder.
In sentencing Andrew Wragg (38) for the manslaughter of ten-year-old Jacob, Judge Mrs Justice Anne Rafferty said she accepted Wragg had been suffering from diminished responsibility.
But she strongly rejected a claim made during the trial by Wragg's former wife Mary that she did not know her husband was planning to kill Jacob, who was suffering with the degenerative disease Hunter Syndrome, on July 24 last year.
Mrs Wragg said she took the couple's youngest son out of the family home in Worthing, West Sussex, on the night in question, claiming she was expecting an evening of privacy with the defendant.
The trial at Lewes Crown Court heard how Wragg, who denied murder but admitted manslaughter, had called his wife on the day of the killing saying: "It's tonight".
Former SAS soldier Wragg used a pillow to smother tenyearold Jacob but claimed it was a "mercy killing" designed to end the boy's suffering.
Judge Rafferty said to Wragg, of his former wife: "One would have to be quite remarkably naive to accept that this dedicated and experienced mother behaved in that way solely so as to enjoy an evening of prolonged intimacy.
"I have no doubt she was complicit. Had I concluded otherwise I should have formed a harsher view of you. I accept that you would not have taken Jacob's life had you, for a moment, thought that she disagreed with what you were to do."
Speaking after the hearing, Mrs Wragg, who was wearing a lock of hair on her jumper believed to be Jacob's, said she was shocked by the sentence.
She said: "This case was never about Jacob's quality of life. Jacob never judged his own life. He wasn't aware he was different or less able in any way.
"It has been extremely difficult to sit and listen as the dignity of my little boy has been destroyed in an effort to reduce the impact of his death.
"Jacob's condition has been used as an excuse for this crime and I find it appalling that anyone would try and portray him as being less deserving of his life or less entitled to enjoy every precious moment his condition allowed. "I am shocked by the sentence and the message it sends to others."
She declined to comment on the accusation that she had been complicit in the killing.
Yesterday the jury accepted Wragg's account and acquitted the defendant of murder. He admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Wragg, who suffocated Jacob at the family home in Henty Close, Worthing, West Sussex, was found guilty of manslaughter by the jury at a retrial in the case after five hours deliberations.
The trial heard how Wragg had "seen in Jacob's eyes" that he wanted his father to end his life, a claim Michael Sayers QC, defending, said was proof that he had been suffering an abnormality of mind at the time of the killing.
Immediately after Jacob's death, Wragg dialled 999 saying he had "murdered" his son.
In sentencing Wragg yesterday to two years in jail, suspended for two years, Judge Rafferty said nothing could be gained from taking away Wragg's liberty.
She noted that without Wragg's admission, a death of natural causes would have been recorded due to Jacob's worsening state which was obstructing his breathing.
And she also sent out a " resounding message" that Jacob's death had not been a mercy killing but a "deed done by a man suffering from diminished responsibility".
She told an impassive Wragg: "Mitigating factors are your belief that what you did was an act of mercy, that you reacted to stress you found insupportable, and that you have, from the moment you telephoned the police, admitted what you did."