He asked me to kill him: Daughter tells why she smothered ailing Dad

A woman who put a cushion over her father’s face in an attempt to kill him says he asked her to do it.

Jul 12, 2022, updated Jul 12, 2022
Rebecca Louise Burden (right) is facing court charged with attempted murder after she allegedly tried to suffocate her father. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Rebecca Louise Burden (right) is facing court charged with attempted murder after she allegedly tried to suffocate her father. (AAP Image/Darren England)

The first time Rebecca Louise Burden was allowed to visit her father after Covid-19 restrictions lifted at his aged care home she smothered him with a cushion.

Burden says her “lapse of judgment” came after her 68-year-old father – who had a brain injury and severe dementia – asked her to “please just kill me”.

Immediately after using all her weight to push the cushion on Steven Burden’s face his now 47-year-old daughter told a nurse what she had done, a Brisbane court was told on Tuesday.

Mr Burden survived, but when asked what occurred did not remember his daughter’s visit.

It was only from Burden’s account that police were able to charge her with attempted murder.

For two years after Mr Burden suffered the brain injury in a car crash she had cared for him.

But he went to live in the Regis Aged Care facility at Sandgate, north of Brisbane, late in 2019 after pushing her down stairs, breaking her ribs.

During their first contact visit on September 26, 2020 after the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions introduced six months earlier, Mr Burden was on his bed, begging his daughter to get him out, Burden told authorities.

She said she wasn’t allowed to, with her father responding: “Please just kill me. I don’t want to be here anymore.”

Burden stroked her father’s forehead until his eyes closed, took a cushion off a chair and placed it over his face, prosecutor Katrina Overell said.

Using all her weight Burden pushed with her arms and chest on the cushion for 25 to 30 seconds, stopping when Mr Burden kicked his legs.

At the time she wanted to end her father’s suffering because he was always so sad, she told police.

Defence barrister Charlotte Smith said Burden, who has no criminal history, had “quite tragic” personal circumstances and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Her father’s car crash occurred when he was driving to his daughter on the one-year anniversary of the loss of her twins.

Burden told the court she took full responsibility for her actions, sincerely regretted what transpired and understood the gravity of the charge.

She read a statement to the court saying she loved her father implicitly, describing him as her best friend.

She was excited to see her dad “on that fateful day” for the first time in six months.

“During that time together there was a lapse of judgment on my part and it cost me dearly,” she added, saying she had not been allowed to see him since.

“I believe I am a good person who made a grave mistake.”

Brisbane Supreme Court Justice Soraya Ryan granted continued bail for Burden, who had pleaded guilty to attempted murder, before she is sentenced on July 22.

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