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   Case summaries      R v Inglis 2011


R v Inglis  [2011] 1 WLR 1110  Court of Appeal

The appellant appealed against her conviction for murdering her son Thomas. Thomas had suffered serious head injuries when he had fallen out of an ambulance. He had undergone lifesaving surgery which removed part of his skull which resulted in severe head and facial disfigurement. He was in a vegetative state but doctors were hopeful that he would make a recovery. The appellant, however, was convinced that his vegetative state was permanent. She became obsessive and believed he was in pain and wanted to end his suffering.   She injected him with a lethal dose of heroin with the intention to kill. She appealed against her conviction.


Her conviction was upheld


Lord Chief Justice on the issue of mercy killings:

 “Therefore we must underline that the law of murder does not distinguish between murder committed for malevolent reasons and murder motivated by familial love. Subject to well established partial defences, like provocation or diminished responsibility, mercy killing is murder."

On the issue of whether he was a human being:

“the law does not recognise the concept implicit in the defence statement that Thomas Inglis was "already dead in all but a small physical degree". The fact is that he was alive, a person in being. However brief the time left for him, that life could not lawfully be extinguished. Similarly, however disabled Thomas might have been, a disabled life, even a life lived at the extremes of disability, is not one jot less precious than the life of an able-bodied person.”

On the issue of euthanasia:

“Until Parliament decides otherwise, the law recognises a distinction between the withdrawal of treatment supporting life, which, subject to stringent conditions, may be lawful, and the active termination of life, which is unlawful.”

Back to lecture outline on intention in criminal law

Back to lecture outline on murder