Frances Inglis says she had no choice but to 'release' her son, Tom, as he was due to have his food and water withdrawn
A mother has denied she committed murder when she injected her severely brain-damaged son with a lethal overdose of heroin. Frances Inglis, 57, tearfully told the Old Bailey she injected her 22-year-old son with street heroin in November 2008, but claimed she had "no choice".
Doctors were considering applying to the high court to legally withdraw food and water from her son, Tom, who had been left brain damaged after falling out of a moving ambulance in July 2007. "I couldn't bear the thought of Tom dying of thirst or hunger. To me that would be so cruel – to die slowly like that would be horrible," Inglis told the court.
With a date for trial looming over her for a failed attempt to end her son's life 14 months earlier, she decided she had to make sure her second attempt succeeded. The court had earlier heard she broke her bail conditions by visiting Tom in his care home using an alias, and then barricading herself in his room while she delivered the fatal dose.
Giving evidence for the second day, the trainee nurse from Dagenham denied she was guilty of murder.
She said: "I felt he lost his life when he came out of the ambulance. I felt that I was helping, releasing him. I don't see it as killing or murder. The definition of murder is to take someone's life with malice in your heart.
"I did it with love in my heart, for Tom, so I don't see it as murder. I knew what I was doing was against the law. I don't know what name they would call it but I knew that the law would say it was wrong.
"I believed it would have been Tom's choice to have been allowed to die rather than have the intervention to keep him alive."
She shook with sobs as she said: "I had no choice, I had no choice. I would have chosen anything else, I would have done anything else.
"It is not that I wanted to do it, I had to. I couldn't leave my son there."
Inglis said that after unsuccessfully asking a neighbour to help her source the drug to put Tom "at peace", she went on a mission to find it.
"I'd go to places where I thought maybe deals were made like Barking station and outside the jobcentre – I tried to find out where the needle exchange places were," she told the court.
Inglis, earlier described in court as a "wonderful mother" who had previously worked with adults with learning difficulties, said she obtained needles and syringes from the hospital and researched on the internet to discover that two grammes of heroin would be a "lethal dose".
She made her first attempt to kill Tom on 4 September 2007, when he was a patient at Queen's hospital, Romford.
Describing the first incident, his mother said: "I held him, told him I loved him, told him everything was going to be fine, took the syringe, and I injected him in his thigh and his arm.
"Then he went to sleep. He was at peace. I stayed with him. Then he died, he was at peace," said Inglis, before breaking down and sobbing uncontrollably.
She described her horror at discovering that doctors had resuscitated Tom after she left the hospital. It was like the doctors had "put a knife in" her, she said, adding: "It was the cruellest thing they could do to Tom."
She told the jury how this failed attempt to "release" Tom made her all the more determined to succeed on another occasion.
The case continues.
January 14, 2010