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Mother and son found guilty of murdering grandmother

Penelope John killed retired nurse Betty Guy with her ex-soldier son Barry Rogers.

Penelope John and Barry Rogers killed retired nurse Betty Guy.
Penelope John and Barry Rogers killed retired nurse Betty Guy. Wales News Service

A former soldier and his mother have been convicted at Swansea Crown Court of murdering his 84-year-old grandmother Betty Guy.

Barry Rogers, 33, used a pillow to smother Mrs Guy after his mother Penelope John had given her mother a cocktail of pills and whisky on November 7 2011.

Mrs Guy's death was initially thought to be from natural causes and no post-mortem examination was carried out.

They came under suspicion four years later when an ex-partner of Rogers told police he said he had killed his grandmother by putting a pillow over her face.

Betty Guy
Dyfed Powys Police

Police bugged John's home after the pair were bailed to the address, where Rogers was heard saying "But I did it" when his mum mentioned her murder arrest. He was also recorded saying: "No, honestly, you have got nothing to worry about, it's me that's done the act. 

"There's nothing to worry about. Nothing to worry about. Keep our story the same."

Prosecutor Paul Lewis QC said John plied her mother with a cocktail of diazepam, zoplicone and whisky, before Rogers smothered her to death.

They had together agreed to end the life of Mrs Guy at a time to be decided.
Prosecutor Paul Lewis QC

It took the jury more than eight hours to find the pair guilty of murder.

On the late evening of Sunday November 6, 2011, Penelope John summoned her son to Mrs Guy's home to put their plan into operation.

"Penelope John gave her mother a cocktail of crushed tablets and alcohol, and Barry Rogers then deliberately killed her, probably by smothering her with an object such as a cushion or pillow."

Mr Lewis said Rogers confessed to ex Rhian Morris, the mother of his child, he'd given his grandmother "a load of tablets".

During their relationship he also told her: "You want to be careful or I'll do to you what I did to her."

Rogers later married another woman, Lisa Watkins, who said he'd told her how his gran had asked him to help her die. He told the same story to high school sweetheart Sandra Adams, who reported his words to police after their relationship broke down. Mr Lewis said:

"He told Ms Adams that he had drunk a glass of whisky before putting a pillow over his nan's face."

The court heard John rang 999 to say her mother had been suffering with bowel and stomach cancer and had died in bed. But medical records showed Mrs Guy was never diagnosed with cancer, and a doctor John claimed had told her Mrs Guy was terminally ill said the conversation never took place.

No post mortem was carried out on Mrs Guy, and her daughter chose to have her body cremated days after her death. John said her relationship with her mother had been "amazing" and had her ashes scattered in her garden which she visited every day.

She said she'd inherited only a washing machine and a tumble dryer after her mum's death, and her son's recorded admissions had been a "joke". 

Asked about a mercy-killing pact, she said: "I would never agree to that. My mother was my life."

But Mr Lewis told the jury the pair had "repeatedly changed their stories", saying: "Our case is that they are both guilty of murder."

Lorraine Matthews, daughter of Betty Guy, said: "Over the past 3 years the Police have worked tirelessly to collect sufficient evidence to bring this case to court. 

"Now that the case has drawn to a close we are satisfied that justice has prevailed and now we can close this very sad chapter in our lives. 

"All our thanks and gratitude go to Dyfed-Powys Policeand the associated legal services in pursuing this case and bringing it to a successful conclusion."

Rogers, of Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, and John, of nearby St Dogmaels, will be sentenced later.

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