Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Man to continue right-to-die fight

'Locked-in syndrome' sufferer Tony Nicklinson died on August 22
'Locked-in syndrome' sufferer Tony Nicklinson died on August 22

A man whose right-to-die campaign was heard in the courts alongside "locked-in syndrome" sufferer Tony Nicklinson is determined to continue his fight to end his life, his wife has said.

The woman said her husband - known only as 47-year-old Martin in the case - felt relief for Mr Nicklinson's family when the keen former sportsman died on August 22 from pneumonia, having refused food for nearly a week. He was paralysed by a stroke in 2005 and took his assisted dying case to the High Court.

The judges heard that a second applicant, Martin, needed assistance to end his life, having suffered a massive stroke in August 2008, and wanted to be allowed a "dignified suicide".

Refusing the stricken men judicial review, the judges ruled that the law did not breach human rights and it was for Parliament, not the courts, to decide whether it should be changed.

Speaking to BBC News, Martin's wife - whose identity has not been made public - said: "I don't want him to die but I've got to respect his wishes.

"From my own personal point of view, I could never end somebody's life - that's who I am. I don't want to lose Martin, but that is his choice to want to die. We all have choices in life, but he is not able to have a choice or to have control in how his life ends."

She said that her husband found an "inner peace" after Mr Nicklinson's decision to decline food resulted in a rapid deterioration and, eventually, his death.

She said: "For Martin, I think that for Tony it was probably a relief that he was no longer suffering from this life he hadn't asked for. That's not to say it is the same for everyone with locked-in syndrome, but some people are able to thrive on what life they do have. But certainly for Martin and Tony, it's not what they wanted. It's very difficult for them to cope with living that life."

Asked whether Martin would consider starving himself in the same way as Mr Nicklinson, from Melksham in Wiltshire, the man's wife replied: "That's an option open to him at the moment. It takes several days when you stop eating and drinking, and the side effects of that are more traumatic on the family and himself."

Martin's wife told the BBC that his lawyers are expected to hear in the next few weeks whether they are allowed a full hearing at the Court of Appeal.

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