Couple avoid action over suicide clinic death

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The Independent Online

Two people alleged to have helped a pensioner travel to a Swiss suicide clinic will not face charges.

Douglas Sinclair, who was suffering from multiple system atrophy, died at the Dignitas clinic in Zurich on July 28 last year.

The condition attacks the brain and nervous system and - similarly to Parkinson's disease - can lead to sufferers losing feeling and control of their body.

Mr Sinclair, a father of one who was being cared for at the Stapleton House Care Home in Jarrow, South Tyneside, suffered the condition for two years.

The retired engineer is understood to have taken the decision to end his own life as his body began to shut down.

His final moments were captured on a DVD, which formed part of the 10-month police investigation.

Under UK guidelines loved ones who help a person travel to the Dignitas clinic face up to 14 years in jail if they are convicted of encouraging or assisting suicide.

However, the rules say a decision not to prosecute may be taken if the suspect was wholly motivated by compassion, had done their best to dissuade the victim, and it was clear the person taking their own life had "reached a voluntary, clear, settled and informed decision to commit suicide".

Mr Sinclair's solicitor Christopher Potts said friends, family and the authorities had tried to talk the 76-year-old out of voluntary suicide but insisted he had made his mind up months before.

The arrested 48-year-old woman and 49-year-old man will not face charges, Northumbria Police said last night.

A force spokesman said: "A full investigation was carried out by Northumbria Police in relation to this case and files of evidence were presented to the CPS.

"The CPS has taken the decision that no further action will be taken against a 48-year-old woman and 49-year-old man who were arrested."