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Locked-in man devastated at ruling

Locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson has been left "devastated and heartbroken" after losing his High Court battle for the legal right to end his life when he chooses with a doctor's help.

Mr Nicklinson's wife, Jane - standing by her weeping husband's side - described the decision as "one-sided".

She said: "You can see from Tony's reaction he's absolutely heartbroken."

They now plan to appeal against the decision and hope they will be able to organise a hearing before the end of the year.

A second victim of locked-in syndrome, referred to as "Martin", 47, who cannot be identified, said through his lawyers that he now felt "even more frustrated and angry" after also losing his challenge to the legal ban on assisted dying.

Three judges sitting in London referred to the "terrible predicament" of Mr Nicklinson and Martin and described their cases as "deeply moving and tragic".

Mr Nicklinson, 58, from Melksham, Wiltshire, was left paralysed by a catastrophic stroke while on a business trip to Athens in 2005. The court heard that he had been told his existence of "pure torture" could continue - if a doctor could not help end it - for another 20 years or more.

Martin suffered a massive stroke in August 2008, is unable to speak and virtually unable to move. He wanted to be allowed a "dignified suicide".

But Lord Justice Toulson, Mr Justice Royce and Mrs Justice Macur, while expressing deep sympathy for their plight, unanimously agreed that it would be wrong for the court to depart from the long-established legal position that "voluntary euthanasia is murder, however understandable the motives may be".

Refusing the stricken men judicial review, they agreed that the current law did not breach human rights and it was for Parliament, not the courts, to decide whether it should be changed. Any changes would need "the most carefully structured safeguards which only Parliament can deliver".

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