A Wellington pensioner snapped and killed his wife, a dementia sufferer, after caring for her for many years, a court has heard.

Malcolm Beardon, 79, denied murder, but admitted manslaughter at Exeter Crown Court on Monday.

He was released on bail after his plea that he killed his wife, Margaret, 78, when he lost control was accepted by the prosecution.

William Hunter, prosecuting, said: “We have received two psychiatric reports, both of which conclude he is likely to have lost control.”

He is due to be sentenced in the week beginning January 9.

Beardon’s defence counsel said he had the complete support of his family and asked the judge to impose a suspended prison sentence.

But Judge Graham Cottle said it would be exceptional for a person who had killed someone to escape an immediate jail term.

He adjourned the case pending pre-sentence reports, stressing that he was making no promises as to the sentence Beardon would receive.

Beardon left court arm in arm with his son.

The body of Mrs Beardon, who had Alzheimer’s disease, was found in the couple’s home in Church-fields, Wellington, on Friday, July 15, after police were tipped off by a family member.

Beardon was originally remanded in custody by Taunton Deane Mag-istrates after his arrest and later released on bail by a judge at Exeter Crown Court.

At the time his family issued a statement asking for privacy at a “stressful” time, adding that they were providing “care and support to our father, who we love dearly”.