Children of woman killed by husband call for improved mental health services

Children of woman killed by husband call for improved mental health services

THE FAMILY of a woman who was killed by her husband have called for improvements to mental health services in Northern Ireland.

Gary Baird, 65, killed his wife 60-year-old wife Susan at their South Belfast home in August 2020.

At Belfast Crown Court today, Baird was sentenced to serve seven years, having previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter by way of diminished responsibility.

He must serve three years in custody and four on licence.

'Immense heartbreak'

According to BBC News, the court heard that Baird had assaulted his wife with a hammer in an unprovoked attack on August 16, 2020.

However, it was also revealed that Baird had suffered with his mental health following the death of his mother in 2017.

He particularly struggled during the Covid-19 lockdown and claimed that from June 2020, he heard voices in his head.

His defence barrister claimed that between that point and Mrs Baird's death, Baird made 570 calls to his GP seeking help with his mental health but that these went unanswered.

Baird, who had no previous convictions or history of domestic violence, was married to his wife for almost 40 years and the couple had four children.

In a statement, they called for increased funding to support mental health services.

"As the four children of Susan Baird, we welcome and accept the verdict of manslaughter with diminished responsibility," read the statement.

"Through our immense heartbreak, we hope to see improvements and better funding in mental health services across Northern Ireland.

"All family members wish to extend their heartfelt thanks to all who have shown kindness, and we ask for privacy as we continue in our grief."

'Submerged in sorrow'

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Inspector Jennifer Rea said her thoughts were with the couple's children.

"The investigation began with the defendant reporting his actions to police," she said.

"While proceedings have concluded with today's sentencing, I know that the couple's children, wider family and friends remain submerged in sorrow.

"My sincere thoughts are with them."

Due to time on remand, Baird is expected to be released later this year.