‘My husband was not a cruel man - he was fighting a brain tumour’

David McFadden.
David McFadden.

A Derbyshire widow whose husband died of a brain tumour last month is now desperate to clear his name.

In February, David McFadden pleaded guilty to assaulting his wife Jo at their Ripley home.

David and Jo McFadden with Doreen the Bedlington whippet.

David and Jo McFadden with Doreen the Bedlington whippet.

But a man described in court as drunk, violent and cruel was in fact nothing of the sort - he was seriously ill.

Now Jo, 57, says she wants to set the record straight.

She said: “David was a kind man, he was a caring man and he was a funny man.

“But above all he was a gentleman.”

David was a kind man, he was caring and funny.

Jo McFadden

Jo said that far from the caricature portrayed in court, it was only because of her husband’s help that she was able to live her life to the full.

“I had a really bad car accident when I was 27 and I was in a coma for three weeks, she said.

“I was left with a brain injury but I was still able to do all kinds of things because of how he cared for me.

“We had a great life together.”

David and Jo McFadden on holiday.

David and Jo McFadden on holiday.

As well as helping tend a plot on a friend’s nearby allotment, David enjoyed ‘pottering’ round his garden and travelling the world.

The couple had recently been to south-east Asia, had flown to New York with friends and regularly attended the Whitby Goth Weekend.

All of which makes what happened on the night of January 22 even more difficult to believe.

After being at the allotment all day, David came home and opened a bottle of wine.

After drinking just over half the bottle, David started shouting before finally grabbing Jo’s face.

Police were called and David stayed at his sister’s for the next three weeks.

After the attack, Jo admits she was scared of what her husband had become.

“I thought who was this monster,” she said.

“My sister asked him ‘where had that lovely man gone?’.”

After the court case was over and David returned home, everyone tried to put the incident behind them.

When the couple went on holiday later in the year, however, it became clear that something was seriously wrong.

“He was doing strange things and complaining of earache,” said Jo.

“I thought he was depressed but when we saw a doctor she gave him a memory test and he couldn’t remember who the Prime Minister was.”

At that stage, the doctor assumed it was dementia and called for more tests, but by the time David was taken to Derby Royal later in July, he could neither walk not talk.

“They said he had a massive brain tumour and there was nothing they could do - palliative care only,” remembered Jo.

“He was always very particular about personal hygiene so the staff got him a private room and gave him a bed bath and some clean bedding.

“The room was filled with love and me and his son were holding his hand,” said Jo.

“He had the breeze on his face and he smelled of Versace - he kept his dignity.”

The doctors told Jo that because of how big David’s tumour was, it was likely to have affected on his behaviour and personality for some time.

It was only when it started to bleed - possibly around the time the couple were on holiday that the 73-year-old’s condition became more acute.

As well as her husband’s tragic deterioration and death, the thing Jo says has been most difficult has been people’s reaction to the court case and how it was reported.

She said that when she first saw the newspaper afterwards she was ‘horrified’.

“I thought it would only be a little report in the paper,” said Jo.

“But it was on page two with a headline which said he was cruel - but that just wasn’t him.”

“People were embarrassed and wouldn’t look at me - and if they did speak they wouldn’t mention him - it was like there was an elephant in the room.

“All our friends know that the article wasn’t the truth.

“But now we want everyone to know.”

A former builder, David is survived by his wife Jo, his five children and his beloved Bedlington whippet, Doreen.

He was also blessed with eight grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and had many friends in the local community and beyond.