Killing brain-damaged son with heroin overdose was not murder, mother says

By chillinwill · Jan 15, 2010 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    Frances Inglis says she had no choice but to 'release' her son, Tom, as he was due to have his food and water withdrawn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.

    Helen Pidd
    January 14, 2010

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  1. corvardus
    This just reinforces, for SWIM, the cruelty we allow people to endure in the name of morality. Life is about quality and NOT quantity. If it were SWIM he would wish that my mother would have the balls to release him from this life with one hell of a high rather than a lingering death of thirst and hunger.

    It saddens SWIM that this woman had to do what she had to do on behalf of her son, when it could have been done in a nice secure and safe environment, e.g. Dignitas, instead of barricading oneself in a room like a criminal.

    We treat animals with more love and respect than we do with humans.
  2. Coconut
    With modern morality it is much easier to kill an animal because you won't be charged with murder and they're viewed as our property and commodities, not sentient beings who - by the laws of nature - are equal to us.
  3. Abrad
    They withdraw food and water from seriously ill people? That is the most disgusting thing I have heard in a long time.
  4. Coconut
    I'd imagine this only happens in cases where there is no chance of recovery.
  5. Abrad
    Still though, letting them die of hunger and thirst is barbaric no matter what their prognosis is.
  6. pinksox
    Yes. And then keep them "comfortable" with huge doses of opiates. Pretty much to the point the person is asleep or near comatose most of the time.

    SWIM agrees, we kill criminals more humanely by lethal injection than we do "right to die" patients by dehydration.
  7. Coconut
    It's the result of some kind of twisted morality. Doctors don't have to feel guilt if they let someone die "naturally" by dehydration or starvation, as opposed to if they push the plunger on the syringe which kills them. It's all about them feeling good about themselves.
  8. corvardus
    It is better to allow them to die "naturally" by not being fed, and by treating the associated discomfort through opiates so they are not sued by "Right to Lifers" for murder. This is why doctors don't do it. A single patient is not worth an entire career.

    I would presume that a number of doctors, given the correct legal protections and possibly some literal protections from the crazies would much prefer to push that plunger than to allow such a case to linger on interminably.
  9. staples
    I felt empathetic with the mother from the article, but as I finished the article I wondered if they really would've only let the kid die from hunger and dehydration without making him comfortable.

    But now you've said it with an implied sarcastic tone (if I am not mistaken), as if keeping the kid on opiates while he dies is intrinsically less comfortable than overdosing on opiates. I have no foundation for judging this claim because I've never been severely dehydrated or starved, nor have I used opiates (except once as prescribed). However, I do find I am a little surprised at your sentiment--do others tend to agree? Perhaps SWIMMERS who have (ab)used opiates (perhaps suffered an overdose?) might be able to provide some insight here...

    Also, she was a trainee nurse, couldn't she have waited until they administered pharmaceutical-grade opiates to her son, and simply tampered with that dosage/iv when no one was looking if she thought that was the less-painful way to die?
  10. pinksox
    Ummm, doctors don't write the laws, unfortunately. If they did, chances are humane euthanasia would be legal in the medical setting. We kill criminals in this manner in the name of "Justice" because it's "humane." Yet, we prolong the suffering of the innocently, terminally ill.

    What people never hear about are the docs who "knowingly" prescribe terminal cancer patients with more medicine than they need(with a discrete nod or wink of the eye) to stockpile so they have that out if they should chose to go that route. Or the ones teetering on the edge of comatose and death by one checks toxicology in terminal patients...but, of course, it can't be broadcast.

    No, please don't blame the docs for this one. Set it squarely upon the shoulders of the conservative, right-wing right-to-lifers and their brethren who allow their Religious doctrine, beliefs, moral judgments to dictate the laws of the majority...and the rest of America for being too apathetic to do anything about it(if blame must be placed anywhere).

    Not unless she happened to know the security code for the pump controlling the IV supply. In terminal patients, the opiate supply is kept within a locked infusion pump. There's no way to access it(without the key) or change the rate(without the numerical code).

    No, of course not. The point is, at minimum the kid would have been "made comfortable" by teetering on the edge of a fatal opiate OD to begin with. It wasn't sarcasm SWIM was quoting for...its was hypocrisy and irony...okay, perhaps a note of sarcasm as well...since death by lethal injection can be quite quick and painless and, by comparison, death by dehydration is a slow, painful process(hence the need for opiates for comfort and sedation).

    PiSo believes ALL people ought be able to do with their bodies as they see fit so long as what they do doesn't interfere with the life or liberty of another. Whether that's using drugs(SWIM believes most should be legal and all decriminalized) or deciding to end one's own life--whether they be terminally ill or existing in a state the wish not to exist in--coma, persistent vegetative, ect. In those instances, one of course would need a DPOA(proxy) to act on their behalf. Since this young man wasn't married, that duty would likely befall his parents. Honestly, I think its a damn crying shame that the mother was not only kept away from her son(whom she obviously loves deeply) but that she is now most likely going to be spending some time locked away for releasing him from his suffering.
  11. staples
    Ah, that makes sense, I guess I've been watching too much TV.

    Good point, but I wonder why there aren't more stories of other people in similar situations? Unless there were more options?
  12. pinksox
    There are altogether too many stories unfortunately. Elderly spouse, one of whom kills the other after they've completely lost the essence of their "being" to Alzheimers spring immediately to mind. Seems that one hits the papers a few times a year.

    Lots of people are prosecuted for honestly doing what they believed to be in the best interest--or what they KNEW was the desired wishes already--of loved ones who, for whatever reason, would wish to die.

    One the other end of the spectrum one often hears of terminally ill children or even hopeless newborns that society will pay million and millions to keep alive because, even though the situation is medically hopeless and quality of life nil, the parent/s desire the child be kept alive at all costs. Hospitals often end up petitioning the courts to be set free from the burden of caring for these patients. Remember a handful of these in the past few years as well.

    The Terry Schiavo case is one that received a lot of press Nationally. The woman had suffered a heart attack and subsequent severe brain damage from anoxia(lack of oxygen) and lived for many, many years in a nursing home. Her husband had DPOA of her and said it had been her wish to NOT remain alive in such a state. Her parents however got a stay and the two parties fought it out in court for many years while terry languished in the nursing home. Eventually, the husband did win out and her feeding tube and hydration were removed and she died a few weeks later.

    Pretty much the only "legal" way for medical personnel to allow a patient to die is by removing care--be it oxygen, drugs, ventilators, or in the case of a body with a beating heart and functioning brain stem by removing the "care" of feeding and hydration.

    Basically, in the US at least, the only way doctors are legally allowed to assist a patient in dying is by removing care. Personally, I think that's a damn crying shame.
  13. Terrapinzflyer
    I have long felt that the laws against Euthanasia in the west are largely based on Judeo/christian views of being Gods property in much the same way. I know the catholic church has made similiar arguements against suicide and murder- only ~GOD~ has the right to take a life :s

    Having grown up with a veterinarian father it always amazed me that we saw it as humane and just to end the suffering of a dying/failing animal, but could not do the same for humans that we love.

    At least a few US states have legalized "doctor assisted suicide"(I believe Oregon was the first, and I think WA went for it in the last elections). And of course, the (in)famous Dr JAck Kevorkian...
  14. Eratosthenese
    Although this is a tragic situation for everyone involved, it is easily avoided with a special power of attorney.

    After the Terri Schiavo incident, SWIM's father actually went to the trouble of having everyone in SWIM's family sign a special power of attorney stating their wishes in the unlikely event that they end up in a persistent vegetative state. It only took about 30 minutes of everyone's time.

    It may seem like a morbid topic to talk about with the family, but SWIM believes this kind of planning can help rectify legal battles such as this.
  15. Coconut
    Better for who? The doctor, not the patient.

    Can "right to lifers" sue doctors for that? I'm not a legal expert but I thought that - at least in some jurisdictions - one must have a vested interest in a civil case in order to bring it before a court.

    Perhaps I should have elaborated more earlier on: refusing to administer euthanasia because of guilt falls under the broader heading of putting one's own interests before the patient's. I am not saying this is morally wrong (before you start going on about the common good et cetera), I am providing an explanation as to why doctors do not euthanise patients such as this one.

    America? The article is about a British mother and her son. The United States does not apply here.

    I am not blaming doctors for anything; I am offering my own take on why they refuse to administer euthanasia. I find it difficult to believe that criminal charges are the only - or even principal - deterrent against administering it.
  16. Solstice
    Isn't the real issue here the question of how the fuck he fell out of an ambulance? I feel like that's what should be argued about. Whose fault is that?
  17. Bajeda
    Yes, Oregon has the 'Death With Dignity Act' that helps terminally ill patients with only so long to live end their lifes, after medical, psychological, and spiritual consultations. I think the person administers the drugs themselves though, and the doctors simply provide the means, so they do not have to do the deed themselves. I think there was a relatively recent article that discussed how successful this measure was. Not a whole lot of people have used it, but just knowing that the option is there probably helps to allay fears about the nature of one's death for patients with fatal ailments.
  18. pinksox
    Because in nearly every country, Holland excepted, it is technically against the law to do so. No doctor wants to lose their livlihood, much less answer malpractice suits by disagreeing religious family members, face persecution, death threats, potential(likely) prosecution and subsequent jail time and probable permanent lose of rights to practice ever again. The road to becoming a doctor is long and arduous...not too many are willing to risk all that...and the oneswho do aren't going to be vocal about it for sure. (But here is the US, those damn wanna-be docs called pharmacists can also LEGALLY refused(thats Bush) to fill a prescription for emergency birth control if they find it morally objectionable. Some have even gone so far as to not give the patient their script back as well).

    There's also the "first, do no harm" part of the oath every doctor swears to abide to. Some, as individuals, may view euthanasia as "harm," since it artificially shortens "life."

    Others, as individuals, would say it is more harmful to allow a patient who wishes to die via euthanasia, because of terminal illness or a life forever in an irreversibly and profoundly disabled state, to suffer needlessly and often for many months or sometimes even many years before death claims them naturally. When we have the knowledge and means to end their suffering quickly, painlessly, and with dignity. At a time and place of their own choosing when they can be surrounded by friends and family. THIS PiSo sees as the optimum way to die in these instances.

    One of the main crux arguments against euthanasia--even by those who mostly support it in the exception of terminal patients--is that by permitting it legally it would create a slippery-slope effect. Who is going to determine what constitutes a life worth living. What about elderly who may feel as if they're merely a burden to their children and want to end their life. What about a single parent who may feel overwhelmed caring for a profoundly disabled child? Do they then have the right to have the child euthanized? Then what about the poor and uninsured who need costly and/or prolonged treatment in-hospital?

    Much like many opponents of pot legalization feel that--even though they too may agree pot, itself, isnt so bad. That its legalization will the the proverbial foot in the door for other substances. The same sort of tenant is behind right-to-life v. right-to-die. That merely allowing one exception will pave the way for future exception to be made--as invaribly ALWAYS happens. There was once a time, prior to social security cards, that Americans vehemently opposed the issuing of numbers to identify each American individual. The ONLY way that they came to be is when the government swore up and down that SSN's would NEVER be used as identification--and now look how things have become. Where would euthanasia be 50 some-odd years down the road? Even in Holland, where its been legal since the mid-80's, there's cases brought to light all too often nowadays that the system is being mishandled and misused.

    Don't get PiSo wrong. She already firmly stated where she stands on this(and other) issues. But she can clearly see the counter-argument as well...and admits there are some very valid "cons" as well. She also wants to point out that prisons are finding it increasingly difficult to find doctors to perform lethal injections as, even those who agree with allowing the terminal to choose death, have issues with the State-sanctioned murder of otherwise healthy individuals...because that clearly violates "first do no harm." All too often when one hears of a screw up because a team could find a IV site for lethal inject its because more and more systems are training non-medical staff or relying upon nurses(many of whom have questionable IV skills if they arent performing them daily and on many, many people).

    SWIM would have no problem at all giving a terminal patient the tools for the job if they were to ask her for such(fortunately she doubts she'll encounter that much in her speciality) however. But she absolutely would not ever assist in carrying out a death penalty. And, as an Atheist, her choice there has absolutely zero underpinnings. She just believes it to be wrong. Now, take a country like Britain, who view American death penalty as a barbaric practice--and one thinks they'll allow terminal patients the right to choose death? PiSo doesnt seek it happening there anytime soon unfortunately.

    She will say however. It DOES happen, far, far, far more often than one would be led to believe. It's just something that, because of legal ramifications, can't be shouted from the rooftops. Were it be become legal, PiSO would imagine that it would eventually develop into a speciality of its own that works closely together with the team of the patients other doctors...and she highly doubts they'd be any shortage of providers willing to serve in that field as many see it as an ultimate act of human decency and kindness and not as murder.
  19. corvardus
    [Update] Killing brain-damaged son with heroin overdose was not murder, mother says

    Mother is guilty of murdering son

    A mother has been found of guilty of murdering her disabled son by injecting him with a lethal dose of heroin at a Hertfordshire care home.


    Frances Inglis, 57, of Dagenham, Essex, denied murdering Thomas Inglis, 22, on 21 November 2008 and an earlier attempt to kill him on 4 September 2007.

    But a jury at the Old Bailey found her guilty of both charges. She will be sentenced later.

    Mr Inglis suffered brain damage when he fell out of an ambulance in July 2007.

    The jury reached their verdicts by a majority of 10 to two after deliberating for more than six hours.

    'I injected him'

    There were cries of "shame on you" from the public gallery as the verdicts were read out.

    Before the jury went out to deliberate, Judge Brian Barker told them "there is no concept in law of mercy killing" and it is still killing.

    During the trial Inglis said: "For Tom to live that living hell - I couldn't leave my child like that.

    "I did it with love in my heart, for Tom, so I don't see it as murder."
    She told the court: "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."

    BBC News Website
    20 January, 2010
  20. Abrad
    The poor woman has already lost her son and now she gets prosecuted? This is truly a miscarriage of justice. Who benefits from her prosecution? It's not like she's a danger to the general public.

    Imagine the pain she must have felt as she administered the fatal dose of heroin and seeing her son die. She wanted to spare him the agony of dying of dehydration and starvation. Hasn't this poor woman suffered enough?
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