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Mavis Eccleston found not guilty of murder and manslaughter

A statement from Joy Munns, daughter of Mavis Eccleston.

Mavis and Dennis, our mom and dad, were married for almost 60 years, and they were absolutely devoted to each other.

In February last year our dad was terminally ill with bowel cancer. He had been extremely ill for some time. He was suffering intense physical pain alongside symptoms he found distressing and undignified.

He had expressed for many months a wish to end his life in order to avoid more suffering and a prolonged death, but he was too ill to travel to Switzerland.

Our mom did not wish to live without him, her husband, the love of her life, and so she took an overdose together with him. They were found by family members and taken to hospital where our dad died two days later.

Our parents’ love for each other was so clear that hospital staff pushed their beds together so that mom and dad could hold hands and face each other during our dad’s final hours.

Our family is grateful and relieved that the jury in this case could also recognise our mom’s love for our dad.

But since dad’s death our family has been through a terrible ordeal, waiting over 18 months for this court case, worrying that having already lost our dad to cancer, we might now see our mom imprisoned.

We do not believe this needed to happen. If there had been an assisted dying law here in the UK our dad would have been able to have the choice to end his suffering, with medical support, and with his loved ones around him. He wouldn’t have had to ask our mom to do something that is considered breaking the law.

Our dad would have been devastated at the thought of his beloved wife waiting to find out if, at the age of 80, she would face a life sentence in prison simply for respecting his wishes. He would have been heartbroken if he had known his wife and family would have had to endure 18 months of extreme anxiety and distress.

We believe there must be a change in the law so that dying people aren’t forced to suffer, make plans in secret or ask loved ones to risk prosecution by helping them, and so that no other family has to experience the pain our family has had to endure.