'We want to spare Ian unbearable suffering'

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Jim Stewart speaks with emotion of his second-born child, Ian, the "lovely little bloke" who went into hospital for high-risk but vital heart surgery.

The Ian who came home, he says, was not the same child. "Before the operation he laboured for breath and had fits where he turned blue," said Mr Stewart. "But at least the little Ian was still there. After the operation he was destroyed. We just got a shrieking corpse back. He doesn't know or miss me. He doesn't know where he is."

Ian Stewart, now two and brain damaged, is not expected to reach his teens. Jim, and his wife, Bronwen, expect his death to be so painful they want a change in the law so they can end his suffering, when it becomes too great, by lethal injection.

They have great sympathy for Fiona and Con Creedon. But believe that a legal victory for the couple would actually fudge the real issue and allow medical and social hypocrisy to continue.

"When Ian becomes ill again the best option on offer will be to let pneumonia or flooded lungs go untreated," said Mr Stewart, at home in Sidmouth, Devon. "It is a complete nonsense for doctors to say this is not a decision to let him die. If the Creedons win I hope they don't just not feed their son. Surely an injection would be more humane than starving to death."

The latest techniques and intensive therapy have brought small improvements for Ian. But the gains are not enough for Mr Stewart to consider his son has any true quality of life.

The couple reject suggestions that they want to end Ian's suffering to finish their own. "Our greatest suffering is on Ian's behalf," Mr Stewart said. "I love my son. If there was anything I could do for him I would do it."