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Health News

Parents fail to secure unlawful killing verdict

The parents of a spiritual healer who died after a minor foot injury became infected with gangrene failed in their High Court battle for an inquest verdict that he was "unlawfully killed" by his partner, a former nurse.

Russell Jenkins, a diabetic, ran the Quiet Mind Centre, which offered complementary medicine from his home in Lorne Road, Hampshire, where he lived with his "soulmate", Cherie Cameron. When his foot became infected after he injured it stepping on an electric plug in December 2006, Mr Jenkins decided not to use conventional medical treatment after consulting with his "inner being".

Mr Justice Pitchford ruled a coroner had been entitled to conclude Mr Jenkins was exercising his own free will not to receive treatment, and he had not been unlawfully killed by Ms Cameron, a former theatre nurse, when she failed to summon medical help in his final hours.

The judge said: "On the coroner's view, the overwhelming cause of death was the refusal of Mr Jenkins to contemplate outside help."

Mr Jenkins had been warned by his GP in 2001 about the dangers of diabetes, and that any breaking of skin could be dangerous because of his condition. Later that year he ceased to use conventional NHS services.

He was adamant that he would not receive medical treatment after he injured his foot and the wound worsened and gradually became infected with gangrene. He died, aged 52, of septicaemia, or blood poisoning, on the night of April 16 2007.

At the High Court his parents, Donald and Eileen Jenkins, challenged a narrative verdict returned by David Horsley, coroner for South-east Hampshire, in November 2008.

Mr Horsley said Mr Jenkins's death was the result of his condition being "inappropriately and ineffectively treated by himself and others".

Mr and Mrs Jenkins, of Heol Isaf Radyr, Cardiff, condemned the verdict as "perverse" and argued the only rational verdict was that their son had been unlawfully killed.

Their lawyers argued Mr Jenkins's death had amounted to manslaughter by gross negligence following the failure of Ms Cameron to summon conventional medical help. An experienced theatre nurse, she ought to have known that death was inevitable if a patient with gangrene did not receive antibiotics.

But Mr Justice Pitchford rejected the accusations and refused to quash the verdict or order a fresh inquest.