Two held over assisted suicide

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The Independent Online

A team of professionals held an urgent meeting to discuss a disabled pensioner who repeatedly threatened to kill himself seven months before he ended his life at a Swiss clinic, it emerged last night.

Two friends of Douglas Sinclair have been bailed after being arrested on suspicion of assisting his suicide at the Dignitas clinic in Zurich on 28 July. The retired engineer suffered from the debilitating disorder, multiple system atrophy, and his body was shutting down. But last night it emerged that South Tyneside Council held a "multi-agency" meeting on 20 January after Mr Sinclair, 76, repeatedly told staff at Stapleton House Nursing Home in Jarrow that he intended to go to Switzerland to end his life. The team was made up of legal, medical and social services professionals.

Following Mr Sinclair's death, a notice in his local newspaper stated he passed away "peacefully and with dignity following an illness courageously borne". Among the 10 people present when he died was a friend of Mr Douglas's, believed to be one of the two people arrested. Northumbria Police said: "A 47-year-old woman and a 48-year-old man from South Shields have been arrested on suspicion of intentionally doing an act to assist or encourage suicide following the death of a 76-year-old man in Switzerland. Both have been bailed pending further inquiries."

Mr Sinclair's daughter Helen, 41, said her father had been devastated by the loss of his wife, Monica, to leukaemia 10 years ago.