Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

GP won't face new murder charges

Disgraced GP Howard Martin who admitted hastening the deaths of dozens of his patients will not face new murder charges

A disgraced GP who admitted to hastening the deaths of dozens of his patients will not face new murder charges, it has been revealed.

Dr Howard Martin, who was cleared six years ago of killing three of his elderly patients, was being investigated by the Crown Prosecution Service following claims he had helped patients to die.

CPS officials decided there was insufficient grounds for a new prosecution after studying files provided by Durham Police. Investigators broke the news to relatives of those affected that Dr Martin's admissions fell short of justifying his re-arrest on suspicion of murder.

The 76-year-old, who qualified in 1958, was struck off by the General Medical Council last year. He then spoke in a newspaper interview about having helped hasten the deaths of two patients by giving them fatal doses of painkillers.

Dr Martin, now living in Penmaenmawr, in Wales, told The Daily Telegraph: "I twice helped people die, not because they wanted to die, but because they had such dreadful suffering."

Families who believed he was responsible for the deaths of their loved ones then demanded a new prosecution. Durham Chief Crown Prosecutor Chris Enzor said that Dr Martin's comments amounted overall to "a continued denial" and not an admission of guilt. He said: "The case was reopened by Durham Police after patients' families complained about remarks made by Mr Martin in an interview with a national newspaper.

"After careful consideration of this material, including discussion with leading counsel who prosecuted in the 2005 murder trial, I have decided that in these circumstances there is not sufficient new evidence, as the law requires, to warrant the conduct of an investigation which must the authorised by the DPP. I have advised the police of this.

"I have also looked to see whether there is any new evidence which might support a prosecution relating to certain other patients. These cases were looked at previously and it was decided at the time there was insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction. In all of these cases, I have concluded that there is no new evidence to allow us to start criminal proceedings."

The disgraced GP was first arrested in May 2004 at his practice in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, when relatives of an elderly cancer sufferer raised concerns with police after his death.

He was cleared the following year of three counts of murder after a trial at Teesside Crown Court, but last summer was struck off by the GMC for the "egregious, despicable and dangerous" conduct towards 18 of his elderly patients. Dr Martin had refused to give evidence during both the trial and subsequent GMC hearing.

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