A FRAIL Stourbridge pensioner accused of killing his wife at their home is suffering from ‘cognitive impairment’ - his barrister says - and it is likely to be permanent.

Pargan Singh Bhandal, aged 83, of Trehernes Drive, Pedmore, has been charged with the murder of his 82-year-old wife Gian Kaur Bhandal on January 22 or 23.

He had been due to stand trial at Warwick Crown Court this month, but the Covid-19 lockdown caused delays in medical reports being prepared.

As a result Bhandal, who is described by his barrister Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC as ‘an elderly gentleman who is not in the best of health,’ has already had his trial put back until January next year.

At a pre-trial hearing, referring to two psychiatric reports which have been prepared on Bhandal, Miss Bennett-Jenkins said his ‘cognitive impairment is likely to be permanent’.

And she suggested: “It seems the preferable course in what seems to be a deteriorating situation, if the court is to follow the intention of a further report, it should be on a limited timescale.

“We are concerned at the slow pace of this matter.”

Judge Sylvia de Bertodano pointed out that the new date for Bhandal’s trial was January 6 next year, and said the issue of whether he was fit to stand trial ‘does need to be determined before that date'.

She also ordered that a report which was being prepared by a pathologist specialising in bone injuries should be ready by August 4.

That would enable it to be considered by the pathologist who has prepared a report on the cause of Mr Bhandal’s death prior to a further pre-trial hearing.

The judge said that should take place in September on a date to be agreed between the prosecution and defence barristers and the court’s listing officer.

The case was adjourned until then, with Bhandal, who was initially remanded in custody, on bail with a condition of living at an address in Cradley Heath.

During a hearing in the magistrates’ court in February, it was said that at 11.13am on January 23, West Midlands Ambulance Service received a 999 call from Bhandal’s son reporting the discovery of his deceased mother in the bedroom at the address.

After paramedics attended the police were informed – and a pathologist’s examination disclosed she had a fractured sternum, a broken arm and several broken ribs.