A British woman found guilty of murdering her brain-damaged son has lost her appeal after the court ruled that mercy killing is murder. Frances Inglis was originally given a life sentence with a minimum term of nine years, but the Appeals Court reduced that to five years.
After her son Thomas was seriously injured as a result of a brawl in 2007, Ms Inglis tried to kill him with an injection of heroin. However, he was revived and she was charged with attempted murder. While on bail, she succeeded in killing her son.
While acknowledging that this was a tragic case, the Lord Judge stated that "However disabled Thomas might have been, a disabled life, even a life lived at the extremes of disability, is not one jot less precious than the life of an able-bodied person. "His life was protected by the law, and no one, not even his mother, could lawfully step in and bring it to a premature conclusion."
He added: "The latest statute to address the problem of mercy killing, currently in force, expressly includes as mitigation for the offence the offender's subjective belief that he or she was acting out of mercy, but that belief and motivation, however genuine, does not and cannot constitute any defence to the charge of murder." Furthermore, he said, "the law of murder does not distinguish between murder committed for malevolent reasons and murder motivated by familial love".
This is believed to be the first British case of mercy killing to reach the Court of Appeal. ~ Independent, Nov 12