A carer who smothered his 89-year-old dementia-suffering mum has been spared jailed over the "mercy killing".

Kevin Peace, 60, had looked after his dementia and osteoporosis suffering mum Eileen Pearce for a decade before he killed her at their home in Bexleyheath in June 2021.

After he smothered her he slashed his wrists before calling police to say "she was in a lot of pain".

He denied murder but admitted manslaughter by diminished responsibility due to his severely depressed state.

On Thursday, Judge Alexia Durran sentenced Pearce at the Old Bailey to two years in jail, suspended for two years.

She told the court it was a “tragic case”, but added: “Mercy killing is not recognised as an exemption to the law of homicide.”

She said Mrs Pearce was a “fiercely independent” woman who had received “excellent” care at home from her son before the defendant became “overwhelmed” by the situation.

Judge Durran said: “I considered you decided death for both of you was the only solution in the incredibly sad position you found yourself.

“I accept your good character. Your actions can be characterised as an act of mercy.”

The judge also sentenced Pearce to 240 days of unpaid work and a 30-day rehabilitation requirement.

Earlier, prosecutor Jack Talbot told how Mrs Pearce was found dead in her bed at home on June 5 2021.

The defendant told officers that he had put his mother “out of her suffering” with a wet flannel.

He said: “Then I decided to kill myself but it did not work.

“I thought it was only fair if I did that to my mum. I have got nothing to live for and no-one.”

Pearce, who took early retirement from a rail company to look after his mother, said that “nobody wanted to know”.

In a signed note found on his chest of drawers, Pearce wrote: “I am sorry but it’s all got too much. Mum’s health, dementia, and delirium after her recent hospital stay, really has been so difficult to cope with.

“I did try my best. I have been her carer for many years and no one knows how hard it has been.

“Last night was just the final straw. That is not living. That is not my brave, beautiful, bright mum who gave up everything for her boys.

“In the end, I have given her release.

“Please forgive me. I do love her and I did my best. Perhaps I should have asked for help but it’s never been our way.

“It is not right for me to go on, I accept that and have no regrets.

“I just feel I have reached the end of everything and there didn’t seem to be anyone to turn to or who will miss me.”

In his police interview, Pearce said his mother was a “tough cookie” but had been in “incredible pain”.

He said what happened was a “kind of blank”, a “cumulative” effect and like a “whole stack of dominoes” and his whole life falling over.

He said: “I did what I felt I had to do and then I decided I would go the same way but failed miserably.”

When asked if he had spoken to his mother to make a plan, the defendant said it was “not the sort of thing we talked about”.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mrs Pearce’s older son Terry Pearce said she had brought them up alone after she split up with their father in 1974.

He said she had a “good sense of morality and good manners”.

“Although I did not keep in close contact with my mother and brother, when I did visit, my mother was always clean and in good spirits and always looked after by Kevin.”

He appealed for “compassion” for his brother saying he understood the “stress” and “horror” of watching a loved one deteriorate, having cared for his wife before she died from cancer.

He said that he could not fully comprehend just what his brother had to deal with and begged the court for understanding.

He did not know how his sibling found the strength to care for their mother during the Covid-19 pandemic, adding: “The things he did during this time cannot be under-estimated.”

In mitigation, defence barrister Katy Thorne KC said: “This is a tragic but highly unusual case.

“We say, Mr Pearce did kill his 89-year-old mother in the throes of a depressive episode in the context of a wholly loving, caring relationship with her.”

She argued for the judge to take an “unusual” course of imposing a suspended sentence, pointing out Pearce’s guilty plea and previous good character.