WA farmer killed suffering wife in ‘pact’

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A 71-year-old farmer who murdered “the love of his life” in Western Australia drove straight to police and confessed, saying he was “guilty as sin” but carrying out his wife’s wishes.

Kevin John Keath and Kerrie Ann Keath, 68, had been married for 34 years when he cut her throat after she took a sleeping tablet in their home near York on March 8.

Defence counsel Karen Farley said he immediately went to police and reported what he’d done.

He described her as the “love of his life” and said he was carrying out their long-standing suicide pact, but didn’t end his own life because he wanted to ensure her body was handled with dignity.

She said the couple believed their lives had become intolerable due to a combination of financial hardship, depression and ill health.

The Supreme Court court heard Keath, who did two stints in the army and later held high positions in the mining industry, retired from farming because injuries he’d suffered over the years, including in a car crash, left him unable to continue the physical work.

The couple lost “pretty well” their life savings after a company they invested in collapsed.

“It appeared they were going to lose the farm,” Ms Farley said.

“Sometimes even food was tight.”

While Ms Keath didn’t suffer a terminal illness, she suffered depression and also debilitating arthritis that was sometimes so bad she couldn’t hold a bottle or make dinner, which drove her to tears.

Ms Farley said the loving couple had an “ongoing agreement” they would end their lives when they felt it was no longer worth living, rather than become a burden on others, and had tried before.

“He genuinely believes he had no choice in the matter but to assist her,” the lawyer said.

“He is of the genuine view he carried out his wife’s wishes.

“He misses his wife every day.”

Justice Bruno Fiannaca will hand down his sentence after viewing a video of Keath’s police interview, which Ms Farley described as one of the most full, frank and candid she’d ever seen.

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