“I feel like I can hold my head up high now,” a relieved Stourbridge man has told the News after being unanimously cleared of killing his elderly mother.

An emotional Mark Jennens was hugged by delighted family members after the jury at Wolverhampton Crown Court determined he was not guilty of the manslaughter of his frail, cancer-stricken mother Hazel who died in January 2016 - a month after a fall during a row over potatoes for their Christmas dinner.

Mr Jennens, of Sorrel Walk, had been accused of pushing or throwing his 78-year-old “difficult” mother to the floor as he tried to frog march her out of their home during the row on Christmas Eve 2015.

The 40-year-old, a full-time carer to the pensioner who was suffering from lung cancer, pulmonary disease and a weakening of the bones, maintained his innocence and the six-man six-woman jury took just 93 minutes to find reach a not guilty verdict yesterday (Monday July 17).

He told the News afterwards: “She was a Jekyll and Hyde – you could never do anything right. But she was the only mum I’m ever going to have. I feel like she can rest in peace now.”

Mr Jennens, a former civil servant who gave up work to care for his divorced mother, told police after his arrest he had picked her up but she had slipped through his hands and fallen and he described what happened as a “tragic accident”.

The court was told he had suffered a nervous breakdown and was taking anti-depressants and his actions were a “momentary surge of anger”.

He said after the case he had previously sought help from social services and had gone “sobbing his heart out” when nearing the end of his tether in his role as a carer only to be told that for any change to take place regarding his mother’s care she would need to co-operate fully.

But he said: “Mom just refused to engage and nobody mentioned she was given six months to live.”

Mr Jennens said he believes there needs to be “a balance” between the needs of the carer and the needs of the person being cared for and he told the News there are likely many other carers across the country “rocking back and forth” - nearing the end of the road with the responsibility of looking after a sick loved one - adding: “I’m just the tip of the iceberg.”

Despite how the story ended for him and his mother – the pair were reunited in Mrs Jennens’ final days before she passed away from respiratory failure due to bronchopneumonia.

Mr Jennens, who was initially forbidden to visit Russells Hall Hospital, said: “I sat with mom for the last two days. She was pleased to see me. I told her I loved her and she told me she loved me – and she kept saying ‘thank you’.”

His sister Dawn Ellis said it had “never been in the interests of justice” for the case to have been brought to court and she believed their mother “would have never wanted this to happen to Mark”.

Mr Jennens’ friend Scott Faulkner who attended much of the trial said after the case: “I’m just relieved for my good friend that he’s been vindicated. This case should never have gone to court. It was a tragic accident – no-one could have foreseen the consequences.”