Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Frances Inglis Does Not Deserve to be on Trial for Murder. . . No, wait . . .

The UK press has been all atwitter about a sensational murder trial now under way in London. I’m not sure why, given the general cheerleading done by the UK media for assisted suicide and euthanasia.

On trial at the Old Bailey is Frances Inglis:

In 2007, Inglis’ son, Thomas, had been involved in some kind of altercation and was being taken to hospital by ambulance. His injuries were apparently minor. However, Thomas jumped from the ambulance, hit his head on the road, and sustained severe brain damage. He’s been in a deep coma ever since, although medical consensus was that since the accident he had been making some improvements and could well have recovered some function.

Too bad his mother was Frances Inglis. She immediately became obsessed with ending his life, repeatedly making the case to anyone who would listen that she did not think any treatment was in her son's best interest. She visited her son almost constantly and was described by Thomas’ brother, Alexander, as “obsessive and negative.”

She took matters into her own hands – twice.

Only 10 days after the accident, Inglis decided that she had to “put her son out of his misery.” So she injected him with a lethal dose of morphine. While Thomas was successfully resuscitated, he had been without oxygen long enough that his brain damage was much worse.

Frances Inglis was not a happy camper.

Not because she was arrested for attempted murder, but because her son was still alive.

What’s a mother to do?

Why, try again, of course.

And she did.

Out on bail, a condition of which was that she go nowhere near Thomas, she disguised herself as Thomas' aunt, fooled the nurses, and injected Thomas with a fatal dose of heroin.

Horrific, I think we can all agree. However, I must say that I don’t know what all the fuss is about.

Let’s be clear, shall we?

Frances Inglis and the pro-euthanasia and assisted suicide crowd are pretty much on the same page of the playbook:

They both see killing people as a way to put them out of their misery.

They would both agree that Thomas’ life was not worth living.

They would both think killing OK because there’s little or no quality of life for people in this condition.

They would both acknowledge that people in persistent nonresponsive states are as good as dead, so killing them is not a problem.

I think Frances Inglis is getting a bad rap.

If she had pulled a Debbie Purdy and fought passionately in the press to take Thomas to Dignitas in Switzerland for assisted suicide, just as the parents of Daniel James did, she’d be a free woman.

She’d also be a hero instead of a murderer.


Nicky James said...

The writer of this article is right, Francis Inglis is getting a bad rap, especially from the self same writer of the article. Francis is currently on trial, and the UK courts believe a defendent is innocent until proven guilty. She has not yet been found guilty, therefore she is (for the moment) innocent of all charges. In which case, statements such as 'She took matters into her own hands - twice', and 'She disguised herself as Thomas' aunt, fooled the nurses, and injected Thomas with a fatal dose of heroin." are yet unproven - even to the very Judge and Jury that is currently listening to the evidence. So unless the writer of the article was present at both incidents, (in which case why aren't they on the witness stand) the writer doesn't know the truth. Guilty or not, at the very least let Francis have her trial before anyone declares her guilty.

Dr. Mark Mostert said...

Nicky, thanks for stopping by.

I agree - innocent until proven guilty.

However, I don't think you can argue that Frances was arrested the first time round for nothing - because there was overwhelming evidence that she had tried to kill her son with morphine - any other explanation you can offer, please do so.

In the second attempt, who else was in the ward (after asking around her neighbors about heroin) shouting that she shouldn't be approached (she alleged she was HIV positive) and barricaded herself in the hospital room?

What is your case for another perpetrator?

Thanks again, Mark

Anonymous said...

Why do so many 'presume' that a severely disabled person, or a person in constant debilitating pain should be forced to live - for who? - you or themselves.
I think every case is unique, and no doubt there are times when we should help a person to die if they want to.

If a reasonable person lives with a disability/injury that severely impacts the quality of their life and tells their loved ones that they want to die, then that wish should be respected, considered , and very likely honored.
If the person cannot express themselves, then only someone who knows that individual well can even consider whether that person should be helped to die. That is much more difficult. You say that is presumptuous.
It is presumptuous to force people to stay alive under certain circumstances too. What makes your moral view superior? Keeping someone alive may appear to be moral to some, to me, in some cases, it is downright cruel and serves those who do not have the injury/disability - not the one who does.
I have a family member who was on a respirator for a year.
He had been a very physical person all his 70 something years, and now he was bed ridden and could not speak. He kept tearing out his tubes, writing notes to tell his family that he wanted them to 'let him go'. Silent tears would be running down his cheeks - but no - the family knows better. This man was forced to suffer so that no one would have to take the responsibility of implementing his wishes. Don't worry though, he had a natural death from pneumonia. No coward had to take a stand.

I know another man who was riddled with cancer, in his brain, and various parts of his body.
He was on a morephine drip which he could administer to himself with great regularity.
He was in a the most astounding pain I have ever witnessed(it still upsets and confuses me that his was allowed to continue for so long), and would tear out his tubes and plead to die. His wife refused to let him go. She didn't want to 'lose' him.

I am disgusted with these selfish people who insist that all life should be maintained, no matter the cost to the person who is actually living with the injury/disease.

I agree with Frances Inglis. This man has been in a coma for more than a year and had part of his brain removed. I know he cannot communicate. I know he cannot speak for himself. I believe that in this case(not all cases) the mother did the right thing - made and carried out the difficult decision - the one no one else wanted to
take responsibility for, and one she will carry with her for the rest of her life.
I never want a religious person (who is worried about getting to heaven) to make any decisions regarding my future treatment if I were to have an injury that severly affected my cognitive abilities. I leave that in the hands of my non-religious sister who will honor My beliefs - not someone else's.
I would not want my grieving parents visiting my comotose body for 5 or 10 years until I died of pneumonia…if I was lucky.

If you were Thomas Inglis, and you were living this way, how long would you like to do that. One year, five years, 20 years?
I have clearly specified in my 'Power of Attorney for Medical' some specific scenarios under which I choose not to live. Period.

It is presumptuous to say everyone wants to live - how do you know?
By the way, not everyone has the money to fight the courts, then take their family member to Switzerland.
Oh right, even though the son wanted to die - you disagree and no doubt would not have honored his wishes - his parents honored his wishes though
and it is a much more difficult decision for them, then it would be for you.
This is not a black and white issue - there is a lot of grey area.
I have seen too much pain in these people and feel they have not been honored. It is sad.

Anonymous said...

You dne good Frances

Dale Wensley said...

Yes, she sounds a bit mad. As you or I might be too, given a year and a half of the horror she had lived through.

I rather doubt a court-appointed psych would give her a clean bill, unless (dare I suggest) pressured to err in favour of the Crown's interest in a good conviction.

If they get their 'clear warning' out to the rest of us, she stands to serve a comparable term to, say, the armed robber who kills to escape the law or the gang member who kills to build status.

I worry about Frances Inglis' mental health and see no benefit to her nor to anyone else by locking her away where she will deteriorate expensively. Her sentence has already been passed, for her there is no pardon, no parole. She needs our compassion, not this ugly political posturing. What exactly are the tenets of a civilised society, does anyone remember?

Anonymous said...

I was very close to Tom and i went to see him a lot whilst he was in a coma. I disagree with everything the papers have said- Francis (Frankie) did not trick her way past the nurses she was not allowed to see her son for over a year and for a mother not to see her son can you imagine what thats like??
Also she never did "attempt to kill" tom after 10 days it was some months after the accident that she did attempt it!

I for one can confirm that tom WAS NOT improving he was in a vegetive state and me knowing tom would know that this was not what tom would have wanted he would have wanted to die, who would want to live in a care home and have someone do something for you for the rest of their lives?? i for one would not want that!! Frankie has shown great love for her son, she has not done it for any financial gain or any other reasons but her love for tom. Of course everone is entitles to their own opinions but from someone who had to see someone they loved in such a state it is heart breaking so untill someone is in that position i dont think people can really judge anyone!! Can you imagine giving birth to someone and knowing they would never be able to be themselves again?? Can you imagine having all of your dignity taken away from you?? I for one will support frankie through this ordeal and hope she does not get found guilty of murder!!

Anonymous said...

As the Anon writer who knew Tom I know Frankie and she is an extremely kind and dignified lady. I can not believe some of the things that have been said here on this site but it is only understandable that people tend to make judgements on matters when they are not fully aware of the facts of the individual case(s).

As in so many cases I believe it should be remembered that the press can often be rather biased in their reporting. Further it is my belief that the full details of this case will not come out into the public domain.

I live in a village and I have heard people discuss this case around me and they all have had sympathy and empathy with Frankie and are saying "there for the Grace of God go I" - I think that this is very pertinent point to note as it would be interesting to see if some of those that have commented here would make the same comments/judgements if they were standing in the same place as Frankie is today.

Regardless of the outcome of this case I will certainly continue to give Frankie whatever support I can. What should be remembered is that Frankie and her family will have to live with this for the rest of their lives.

pat said...

I don't agree with what the Doctor says at all, but the other comments are spot on. I don't think Frances should even be in court, she obviously loved Tom very much. I have children and would do exactly the same were it to happen to one of mine.People have selfish reasons for prolonging the life of others.

pat said...

The verdict of murder is a complete travesty of justice, obviously the moral do-gooders will be applauding this result.

" Never judge anyone until you have walked a mile in their shoes"

Anonymous said...

A truly disgraceful verdict.

Locking her up is pointless - she is neither a danger to the rest of society nor will this act as a deterrent to people who are placed in such desperate circumstances.

Anonymous said...

I feel so much for Frances Inglis. If in her shoes I would have done the same. My son had always said that if he was left brain damaged following an accident he did not wish to live. He did have an accident and was severely brain damaged. As the medics fought to save him we made our sons wishes knowm. He lived for five days and nature took its course and took him from us.
Had he survived I suspect I or my husband would have been standing in a dock facing similar charges of murder. To FrancesI say know that there are many parents who are standing right behind you.

Anonymous said...

Poor Thomas. Poor Mrs Inglis.
I can think of little worse than seeing your own child go through something like this, knowing that the situation is hopeless. You wouldn't let an animal live like this.
My daughter has had thirteen (unsuccessful) operations for a congenital condition in her 25-year life. Every time I went with her to the operating theatre door it got harder for her to go through the experience (and for me too). At 21, she refused to have any more, despite her disability. She's lucky to be able to make the choice for herself.
Apparently Thomas was resuscitated after the first heroin injection experience. If anyone thinks that resuscitation is a nice thing to do to someone (even if it achieves the desired outcome) they should see it sometime. Apart from mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, it can include such emergency procedures as external chest compression, electric shock, insertion of a tube to open the patient's airway, injection of medication into the heart or open chest heart massage.
Of course there must be laws to protect the vulnerable and innocent but it will cost taxpayers approximately £34,000 for every year of the sentence (90% of which is spent on security) to keep this unfortunate woman in captivity. She is hardly a danger to society. As a mother I hope that neither of my children nor I will ever have to face such appalling circumstances.
I feel great sympathy for the whole family and for Thomas's friends.
Matthew (7:1) got it about right. "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." If this was a sin, rather than an act of mercy, Mrs Inglis deserves forgiveness, not punishment. I hope that her son is now at peace. I also hope that she appeals and wins.

B. James Stinson said...

Wow, what a powerful University chapel today, Dr. Mostert.

Anonymous said...

Any decent human being must be appalled by the severity of the sentence passed on this loving, if misguided, mother. She was clearly at her wits end and we can only hope that an appeal, against the background of massive public support, will see her sentence reduced. 'Mercy killing' is a dangerous area but to treat this case as murder shows that the law has not moved so far from the days when Ruth Ellis could go to the gallows. Thank goodness we don't still have the death penalty or this judge would have been donning his black cap.

Stephen Lawrence, Cambridge said...

Seems to me Frances Inglis is not a danger to anyone. Why is she therefore going to prison? To be some sort of unofficial "mentor" for the rest of those inside? I suppose that's the best we can hope for. Or, perhaps she herself might go on hunger strike, in the manner of Gandhi.

Anonymous said...

Jenny from Devon thinks there should be a campaign to free Frances Inglis. This is a travesty of justice! As a mother, myself, I can only begin to imagine how much she has suffered. As someone who did not have the courage to help my mother to die when she was suffering from cancer and wanted to do so, I know how much courage it must have taken for this brave lady to take her son's life. This must have been an act of EXTREME LOVE! I truly believe in life after death and cannot under stand why anyone would want someone they love to remain in this life purely to endure further suffering!

Anonymous said...

I just feel it is a complete shame. Firstly that a Son should lose the majority of his life during the initial accident. After all surely quality of life has to have some importance in someone's life. I'm sure I would not want to just endure a day of nothingness. Human beings live to do - to communicate, to grow, to enrich, to make others happy, to raise families and so many other things. Would anyone writing replies to this article be happy if their ability to make their mark - in whatever way was totally removed. Add to this the potential for feeling pain and could this actually be used as a form of torture. You may say it couldn't possibly be torture but imagine being strapped down unable to move, unable to speak or act in any way to defend yourself or make your existence better. This is then enforced for as long as possible or until you die of other causes. This is one way of looking at the plight Frances Inglis's Son.

Now voluntary euthanasia hasn't been given much thought in the UK other than to try to stop others using this option for themselves on the continent. This young man could not - now or in the foreseeable future voice his own opinion as to whether this course of action would have been his choice. His Mother has now been convicted of his murder for making that judgement for him. I would not wish to live in the circumstances he was going through and as a parent I feel that it must be the worst kind of decision you could possibly have to make.

Frances Inglis, I'm sure was going through a far greater pain from the condition of her Son and what she had chosen to do, than any that could be imposed on her by the state.

Right or wrong is not possible in this circumstance as there is such a vast grey area. Unless you can prove that she had a vindictive hatred for her Son or that she had acted purely to free herself from the ties she still had to her ill Son, then it seems unfair to me that she can be condemned by anyone for Murder. For me this is a 'mercy killing' but I doubt very much Mrs Inglis really cares too much what the outside world feels but is mainly concerned that her family, including her other Son, are backing her fully. Brothers tend to know what the other would want more than most people and the Brother does appear to feel that his Mother should not have been tried, let alone, convicted of murder. I do feel as her family said 'shame on you'.

Just my opinion.

stupifmr said...

well I think this woman is a hero. I remember it well when my father was dying and the the silly fucker made me his next of kin. I would not let him go. he must have been in agony in his last days and
I just kept trusting he would come through. In the end It was my younger brother who agreed without me being there that it should end. I was there in time for the end but the end was doctors administering enought motphin to finish him off. my question is how is it ok for a doctor to decide the end is nigh but not for a loved one? to do so?

Caroline said...

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged." Well sure, except that we judge people all the time for all sorts of things, so why is this the exception? If it were a robbery or even a harmless shoplifting, how many of you would be saying "don't judge"? I wish people were consistent in their forgiving feelings, not just with cases they personally sympathise with.

Anyway, on topic - I support assisted suicide. I believe everyone's life belongs to them and if they choose to end it that's their decision alone. Mercy killing is MUCH more difficult, because there is no way to know for sure what the person wants. Different things are unbearable to different people. Personally, I think I could handle physical disability but if my mind went I doubt I'd want to go on. Other people might feel the opposite.

Only someone who knows the person very well can even begin to guess what their wishes are. But that's the problem - someone who knows the person intimately is likely to care for them deeply. So there is a grave danger that they'll make the decision from their OWN point of view, not that of the person whose life is at stake.

That is what seems to have happened here. I read Frances Inglis' statements and everything she says sounds like she acted to end her own suffering, not to carry out her son's wishes. Surely everyone feels profound sympathy with her - it is terrible to watch someone you love go through pain and impairment - but no one has the right to kill someone else in order to ease their own pain. Tom's life belonged to him, not to her.

I agree it's selfish and cruel to keep someone alive - possibly against their will - just because you don't want to lose them. When my mother was in the last stages of cancer, I didn't want her to die even though I knew that’s what she wanted. She had simply had enough. Luckily I didn't have to make that decision, but I hope (and believe) I would have acted according to her wishes and not my own.

But it's also selfish and cruel to end someone else's life - possibly against their will - just because you can't bear to watch them suffer, or because you can't cope, mentally or emotionally, with the situation. I have no "inside knowledge" of Frances Inglis' case, but from everything I have read it sounds like she falls into this category. Maybe I'm wrong, but look at her behaviour! She started talking about ending his life just days after the accident. She seems to have planned it continually. She decided out of hand that he was never going to get any better, despite what some of the doctors said to the contrary. Her other son admitted she was "obsessive and negative". She couldn't bear to watch what was happening to her son. She just wanted the nightmare over. So she put herself out of her misery. Unfortunately, she took away his life in order to do that - and with it any chance he might have had or wanted to take.

She talks constantly of her own feelings, her love for him, her belief that dying was best for him. But I've seen no statement where she explains why HE would have wanted to die, what was it about HIS personality that makes her so sure this was HIS wish? I get the feeling listening to her that she was operating on a subconscious "mother knows best" level. Understandable? Perhaps. Justifiable? No.

The biggest failure seems to be the lack of professional therapy offered to her - she seems to have become permanently hysterical and borderline delusional (believing the doctor was lying about Tom's chances of improving). After her first attempt to kill him, why wasn't she prescribed psychiatric treatment? And why on earth didn't they monitor her more closely, knowing what her intentions were?

wendy priestley said...

NO-ONE knows what's best for a child better than his mother - that's not to say that all mother's actually DO what's best for their children all the time.

But if you have half decent instincts and the normal overwhelming love that a mother feels for her children, NO-ONE has a more valid opinion about what's in the those childrens' best interests than their mother.

I am a disabled mother with a son who is my universe - but I would do anything it took to save him from pain and degradation, albeit hopefully objectively proportionate to that pain and indignity.

I've always said that, if my own son died, because he's my only son, I'd kill myself straight afterwards (I wouldn't if I had other kids). I don't know what I'd do in this mother's shoes and I pray that, touch wood, I'm never put to the test - but don't condemn what you can't know, let alone understand. This woman has been through enough pain - and I'd say that's exactly what she felt about her beloved son. My heart goes out to her

Anonymous said...

I knew Frankiie when i worked with her with adults with learning difficulties and also did a counselling course with her before that. I lost touch with her after her son was injured but i knew she was distraught and in a bad way. She was obsessed with his condition and she should have received pychiatric help. I know she loved her sons incredibly and would have done anything for them. I dont know whether her son would have got any 'better' but i cant see how putting her in prison is going to help anything. She is already suffering and has to live with what she did and im sure her family are suffering still too. She would not have been a danger to anyone in the community. She did a lot for the community. I am very sad about it all ....

Caroline said...

wendy priestley said...

"But if you have half decent instincts and the normal overwhelming love that a mother feels for her children, NO-ONE has a more valid opinion about what's in the those childrens' best interests than their mother. "

But that's exactly what's in doubt here - the idea that this mother had good instincts at the time she killed her son. Even if someone has "half decent instincts" under normal circumstances (which many people don't), in a traumatic situation like this most people can't think clearly, or even feel clearly.

No one doubts her love for her son, but it seems any good instincts she had went out the window. Even her other son said she seemed "nearly insane" and that you couldn't talk to her properly. It's desperately sad, but she needed psychiatric help and was in no condition to make life or death decisions.

Anonymous said...

I have already commented on this case prior to the verdict. The verdict was a disaster - it was most definitely a mercy killing! The full facts of the medical evidence etc should have been taken into consideration - it is inhumane to withdraw feeding any human being or an animal and starve them to death. Frankie did what she thought was right for her son - as any mother would.

I would imagine that Frankie is completely shocked by the outcome - whilst the Judge asked the Jury to leave their emotions out of their deliberations I wonder if when he passed his sentence if he left his own emotions out of the sentence. No doubt this will come to light as matters further evolve.

Again I will say that both Frankie and her family have to live with this whole situation for the rest of their lives ... Alex did well in the statement he gave to the press and he conveyed the feelings of the family and those close to them.

Surely this sentence is not justice - Frankie is most certainly not a danger to the public - the sentence was excessive to say the least and a family have lost not only a brother, son, friend but their mother (Frankie) - if this sentence/case is not reviewed. I hope that an Appeal is lodged and common sence will prevail in the end - but Frankie and her family still have to live with the tragedy of what happened to Tom and how he would up with brain damage in the first place as a result of falling out of the back of the ambulance! There has to be a charge against the relevant bodies for that surely!!!

Anonymous said...

The law may be the law, but this sentence just feels so very wrong. She did kill him, so the verdict had to be as it was, but the sentence doesn't fit. She is already serving her own life sentence with the loss of her son - many months before he died. Her motivation was not to deprive him of life but to free him from a lifetime she, as his mother and someone who loved him dearly, truly believed he would not want. I don't believe anyone who has not been in such a situation can truly judge the terrible agony of having to choose between taking such drastic action and having to watch someone you love suffer in such a way.

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Anonymous said...

I wrote the comment....
"I am disgusted with these selfish people who insist that all life should be maintained, no matter the cost to the person who is actually living with the injury/disease."

These are difficult grey areas. I did not say that someone who is severely disabled should not live.

This is the problem with this kind of issue. It is completed tied to our value systems, and it can be hard NOT to see it in black/white.

A blanket 'keep them alive no matter what' is not respectful, it saves us, not the patient/person.

The comment regarding NAZI's is another indication of how deeply our value system is impacted by these issues. This is a black/white comment as well regarding a non black/white issue.
It will never be a black/white issue nor should it be.

This issue is about an individual's value system regarding their own life - and sometimes the much more difficult issue of acting on someone else's wishes/beliefs. In practice, we have to be careful not to cloud it with our own views.

If Frances goal had been to "end her own suffering of having to put up with him", she could have just stopped going to the hospital. That would have been the easy route. She took the route that no one would ever want to have to take - but her love and respect for her son were more important to her.

Very brave lady. Very tragic for everyone.

Dandelion said...

Where's the petition? Does this woman know the extent of public outrage at this horrendous verdict? I hope she can take some comfort from it, and I hope she will appeal. There's no way this verdict can stand.

Www.twitter.com said...

I'm glad that people do understand that my Aunt was a caring loving Mother! She only had one reason to go to these lengths and that was to stop her Sons Suffering!Putting herself at risk and the consequences! Life Imprisonment! Only a Mothers love knows no bounds!Now everyone suffers but Tom suffers no more! Why aren't people more compassionate and understanding? Thankyou from her family xx

Www.twitter.com said...

I'm glad that people do understand that my Aunt was a caring loving Mother! She only had one reason to go to these lengths and that was to stop her Sons Suffering!Putting herself at risk and the consequences! Life Imprisonment! Only a Mothers love knows no bounds!Now everyone suffers but Tom suffers no more! Why aren't people more compassionate and understanding? Thankyou from her family xx

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Anonymous said...

I would never use any media reports as any kind of evidence on whether this woman was 'obsessed' or 'negative'.
She birthed him, raised him and no one has a better right to decide for him, when he can no longer decide anything, what to do for him.
I don't know why we go to such lengths for severely disabled people to lengthen their lives at the cost of their dignity and own wishes. Some kind of arrogance, that being abled bodied gives us a better right to decide that life at all costs is the best option?