Father accused of murdering terminally ill boy

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The Independent Online

A man was appearing in court today charged with the murder of his terminally ill son.

A man was appearing in court today charged with the murder of his terminally ill son.

Andrew Wragg, 36, was appearing at Chichester Magistrates Court later this morning, Sussex Police said. His 37-year-old wife Mary, who was arrested with him, has been released without charge.

Jacob Wragg, 10, suffered from Hunter syndrome, a rare disease characterised by mental retardation, physical deterioration, aggressive behaviour and hyperactivity. He was treated by paramedics at his home in Worthing, West Sussex, on Saturday night, after his parents had made a 999 call saying he had stopped breathing.

Jacob was transferred to Worthing Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police and ambulance services would not comment yesterday on a possible cause of death. A post-mortem examination was made but police were not releasing the results.

The parents raised money for a mercy mission to South Africa to help another child suffering from the same condition four years ago.

Friends of the Wraggs told how Jacob had recently been very poorly. One friend told the Brighton Evening Argus: "He was a lovely lad but it was dreadful for everyone knowing he was going to die from Hunter syndrome. Mary shouldered much of the care and Andy played his full part in supporting Jacob. Jacob had been very poorly of late and he was in respite care on a regular basis."

It is understood that Mr Wragg, a former Army serviceman, had recently returned from Iraq, where he worked in private security. He has also served with the Merchant Navy and on board the QE2.

Jacob had received care at the Chestnut Tree House hospice in Angmering, West Sussex, and had attended the official opening of the facility by Princess Alexandra in November last year.

Mary said at the time: "The benefit to us will obviously be the respite care, allowing a break for Jacob and myself."

Hunter syndrome is an inherited condition with no cure that in its severest form can result in death for children as young as 10.

The disease, which is carried by the mother and passed to her son, causes a deficiency in the body of an enzyme that is vital for breaking down sugar molecules. Without it, these molecules build up until they reach toxic levels in the body.

The severe form of Hunter syndrome tends to affect young boys, who begin to show a range of distressing symptoms usually from the age of about two years old onwards.

Common symptoms include coarse facial features, large head, stiffening of the joints, progressive deafness and larger than normal internal organs such as the liver and spleen.

According to the MPS Society, which provides support for more than 1,000 sufferers of related diseases and their families, Hunter syndrome affects one in 150,000 people. There is no cure for it and life expectancy for the severe form is 10 to 20 years.