Son sentenced to two-years suspended after pleading guilty to the attempted murder of his terminally ill mother

20/03/2014

Iain Harrison, 50, from Dorset was today at Winchester Crown Court given a two-year suspended sentence for 18 months after pleading guilty to the attempted murder of his terminally ill mother.

John Locke, Senior Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service in Wessex, said: "This is a very sad case, where a son admitted carrying out an act that amounted to the attempted murder of his terminally ill mother because he could not bear seeing her suffering. As distressing as it is to see a loved one suffering and dying from cancer or a terminal illness, it is not for a person to decide when someone should die. Euthanasia is effectively murder and murder is a crime.

"The court at Winchester Crown Court heard how Hope Harrison, 74, was diagnosed with lung cancer in late 2010 and that the prognosis was that she had not long to live.

"On March, 29, 2011, she was admitted to Dorset County Hospital after her condition worsened. Her cancer had spread elsewhere in her body and she was in great pain. It was felt by her consultant that she would not benefit from surgical intervention; she was to be kept as comfortable as possible as her death was inevitable. The nurse in attendance at the time entered in her log book that Mrs Harrison's 50-year-old son Iain was at her side and asked the nurse to help his mother as she was in great pain. Mrs Harrison was given Morphine and Medazalam. Mr Harrison asked the nurse if there was anything he could do, and the nurse told him that they could only make her comfortable and the only thing he needed to do was to be on her side when she eventually passed away. Mrs Harrison died on the evening of April, 2, 2011.

"Mr Harrison started to see a psychiatrist as following the death of his mother he suffered from depression. On two occasions he tried to commit suicide and he seriously injured himself by jumping from the window of his fourth floor flat. On February, 21, 2013, he confessed to this psychiatrist he was consumed with guilt after killing his mother by suffocating her.

"He then called the police who arrested him. He made the same confession to the police after declining to have a solicitor. After a careful and thorough review of all the evidence in this case, I decided that there was sufficient evidence and it was in the public interest to charge Mr Harrison with an offence of attempted murder, an offence that he pleaded guilty to on February, 21,2014.

"Mrs Harrison's consultant said that her death was inevitable and it was therefore not possible for the prosecution to prove that her son had actually killed her. However it was possible to prove that he attempted to do so, based on his own admission."