Mother who killed brain-damaged son loses murder appeal
A MUM found guilty of murder after giving her brain-damaged son a lethal heroin injection to end his “living hell” lost an appeal against her conviction today (Friday November 12).
Frances Inglis, from Dagenham, east London, was jailed for life with a minimum term of nine years at the Old Bailey in January, after injecting Tom Inglis with heroin while he was at The Gardens, Neurological Nursing Home in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, in November 2008.
The 58-year-old was also found guilty of attempting to murder Tom by injecting him with heroin while he was at Queen’s Hospital, in Rom Valley, Romford, in September 2007.
Three judges at the Court of Appeal in London rejected her conviction challenge, but reduced the minimum period she must serve before becoming eligible to apply for parole to five years.
After her conviction her family said they were standing by her over the death of her 22-year-old son.
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Inglis was not present for the ruling.
Lord Judge said: “There is no doubt at all that the appellant was subjected to great stress and anguish, but dealing with it briefly and starkly, there was, as our analysis of the evidence underlines, not a scintilla of evidence that when the appellant injected the fatal dose of heroin into her son she had lost her self-control.”
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Examining the concept of mercy killing in the ruling, he said: “We must underline that the law of murder does not distinguish between murder committed for malevolent reasons and murder motivated by familial love.
“Subject to well-established partial defences, like provocation or diminished responsibility, mercy killing is murder.”
Tom suffered severe head injuries when he fell out of a moving ambulance in July 2007.
His mother, who worked as a carer for disabled children, first tried to end his life two months after the accident when he was being treated at Queen’s.
His heart stopped for six minutes, but he was revived.
The mother-of-three was charged with attempted murder before successfully trying again in November 2008 after barricading herself in her son’s room at the Gardens nursing home and supergluing the door.
Jurors returned majority verdicts of 10-2 and the trial judge told them that they could not have had “a more difficult case”.
At the recent appeal hearing, her QC Alan Newman told the judges that she feared her son would die in agony and gave him the injection to end his life “peacefully and painlessly”. Inglis believed he was in “constant pain”.
Mr Newman said: “She was entirely taken up with the belief that Tom was suffering and that he was trapped in a sort of living hell and in pain.”
Before the tragic events, Inglis was “a devoted mother, a perfect lady, a person of impeccable character” who had worked for many years helping disabled people.
The QC told the judges: “In her eyes what she did was end his life in a calm and peaceful way and not one that would cause him pain and suffering and agony.”
It was argued on her behalf that the trial judge should have left the issue of provocation to the jury.
One of the areas of provocation related to the signs of “pain and terror that she believed from start to finish that Tom was suffering”.
But the judges rejected the provocation argument.