Rita King
Ronald King has been charged with the murder of his wife Rita King, 81, De La Mer Home

The husband of 81-year-old woman Rita King, who was shot dead at a care home in Essex, has been charged with her murder. Ronald King, 86, is accused of killing his wife at the De La Mer House in Walton-on-the-Naze on Monday (28 December) morning.

Officers were called to the care home in Essex just before 9am, following reports that a woman had been seriously injured. The elderly woman was gunned down in front of the other residents, as her husband was heard mumbling "she has had enough" before pulling the trigger.

A post-mortem examination conducted on Tuesday revealed that Mrs King had died from a single gunshot wound to the head. Friends suspect Mr King was driven to carry out a 'mercy killing' over the rapidly failing health of his wife, who had Alzheimers.

Mr King had reportedly intended to kill himself after shooting his wife, but was dissuaded from taking his own life by the home's manager, as he struggled to pull the trigger. Julie Curtis revealed she 'cuddled' him and quietly asked him to hand over the weapon.

"He was walking towards me with a gun – first of all I thought it was a joke, that somebody was just messing about," she said. "He got closer and closer to me and he was shaking from head to foot and I was very aware then it looked like a real revolver and I thought he is not messing about.

"He started to pass comments to me about 'I can't actually pull the trigger, I am trying to pull the trigger'. I went towards him and I got closer and closer and he was just shaking. The gun was going between him and myself. I just said, 'Please, please, give me the gun. Don't do anything silly'. He did not respond – he did not fight me. He just handed me the gun."

Mrs Curtis, 57, said there were still four bullets in the gun, a British Army service revolver. "The most shocking thing was to find out there was another four bullets in that gun and realising it could have ended up a lot worse. As far as I am aware, there was only one shot fired."

Police suspect the Enfield six-shot gun, a standard sidearm issued to soldiers between 1932 and 1957, may have been kept by Mr King after post-war military service.

King, of Cedar Close in Walton, has been remanded in custody and will appear at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on Wednesday Sky News reports. Essex Police is not currently looking for anyone else in connection with Mrs King's death, and their investigation continues.