Parents seek right to let their son die

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The Independent Online
Parents of a brain-damaged baby, Thomas Creedon, cleared the first stage of legal proceedings yesterday to allow their son to die.

At a private hearing, a High Court judge in London ruled the 22-month- old boy should be made a ward of court so the case can proceed. Although he will remain at home, the move means doctors must seek permission from the courts for any changes to his treatment. The case will proceed after further expert medical reports into Thomas's condition.

Thomas's parents, Fiona and Con Creedon, were not in court for the hearing but their solicitor said outside: "Thomas is getting no benefit from his surroundings. In those circumstances his parents feel the decision has to be made." He said he hoped the case would be heard later this year, but it was likely to go to the Court of Appeal and House of Lords. The parents have been funded by legal aid.

Thomas was brain-damaged in the womb, is blind and deaf and has no control over his limbs. He cries inconsolably, has constant fits and is fed through a hole in his stomach.

The President of the High Court Family Division, Sir Stephen Brown, told the court he had the "very greatest sympathy and understanding for the parents of this tragic boy".

The Official Solicitor, Peter Harris, acting for the child, was named by the court as a respondent in any further proceedings. The two NHS trusts who are responsible for Thomas's care - they cannot be named - were also listed as respondents along with Humberside council. The plaintiff is the baby himself, with his father acting on his behalf.

Sir Stephen said the two NHS trusts shared a heavy burden of responsibility with Thomas's parents and the wardship order aimed to remove some of that burden. "The court is concerned for the protection and welfare of Thomas and also to assist the parents in the desperately anxious and tragic situation in which they find themselves," he added.

Explaining the parents' reasons for their decision, Mr Creedon said in advance of yesterday's hearng that the forced feeding was barbaric and he wanted the right to stop it and relieve his son's suffering.

"It is a desperately hard situation for any caring parent to be in," he told the Mail on Sunday."Fiona and I love Thomas beyond measure and we would not seek this action if we did not believe it was best for him."

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