Parents who helped son to die will not be charged

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The Independent Online

The parents of Daniel James, the 23-year-old rugby player paralysed in a training ground accident, will not face criminal charges for taking him to Switzerland and helping him to die, the Crown Prosecution Service announced yesterday.

Mark and Julie James admitted that they took their son to the Dignitas clinic to commit suicide in September this year – 18 months after he was diagnosed as a tetraplegic following a tackle which left him paralysed from the waist down.

Yesterday the CPS had decided that "such a prosecution was not in the public interest."

The announcement by the CPS revealed that Mr and Mrs James had helped their son send documentation to Dignitas and had paid for his suicide from their bank account. They also accompanied him to the clinic on a flight which had been booked by a family friend.

Announcing the decision not to charge Mr and Mrs James, Mr Starmer said: "This is a tragic case involving as it does the death of a young man in difficult and unique circumstances. While there are public interest factors in favour of prosecution, not least of which is the seriousness of this offence, I have determined that these are outweighed by the public interest factors that say that a prosecution is not needed.

"I would point to the fact that Daniel, as a fiercely independent young man, was not influenced by his parents to take his own life and the evidence indicates he did so despite their imploring him not to. I send my condolences to Daniel's family and friends."

Mr James revealed that he had begged his son not to take his own life. He said: ""We pleaded with him not to do it and change his mind and live... we were all so upset but at the end of the day it was what he wanted," he said.

"Even up to the last second... I hoped he'd change his mind... and my wife... I know she felt exactly the same. There would be nobody happier to hear him to say he'd changed his mind and he didn't want to do it."

So hopeful were they that the family friend who arranged the flights had bought a return ticket for Daniel in the hope that he would change his mind and return home to Worcester with his parents.

Had the prosecution gone ahead Mr and Mrs James would have become the first people in the UK to be prosecuted for assisted suicide under the Suicide Act.