“You acted out of love”- Son who threw elderly mother off balcony is cleared of murder

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The care home where Robert Knight killed his mother
 

Robert Knight, 53, was described as a ‘devoted son’ and cleared of murder after he killed his mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease by throwing her off a 13ft balcony.  SPUC believe this case raises troubling questions over a cultural shift, which would see the killing of those with dementia as compassionate.

June Knight aged 79, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and was receiving end-of-life care at the Essex Westcliff home in the days leading up to her death. During a visit, Mrs Knight was carried by her only son, Robert, through a fire door where he threw her off a balcony, sending her plummeting over 4 metres towards the ground.  Mrs Knight suffered ‘catastrophic’ brain injuries and died at the scene.

A trial at Basildon Crown Court heard how Robert Knight told authorities that he did not want to see his mother in pain after she contracted a winter virus.

A jury found that Knight suffered from a “loss of control” when killing his mother, and sentenced him to two years in prison, suspended for two years.

Sentencing Knight, Judge Samantha Leigh said: “You are someone who acted out of love and desperation.” Judge Leigh described the situation as a “very sad case” and an act of “mercy killing.”

“Killing is not a loving act- let’s offer help and hope where we can”

Antonia Tully who leads SPUC’s campaign against euthanasia and assisted suicide, Lives Worth Living, said: “This is a tragic case which raises a number of questions. What care and support was given to Robert Knight to help him accept and cherish his mother in her last days?  Was Mr Knight helped to understand his mother's distressing condition? Why was he so desperate that, days before her natural death, he decided to kill her?

“Caring for people with dementia can be extremely challenging and demands a lot from both carers and families.  It is completely wrong to suggest that killing someone with dementia is a loving act. That sends a message that there's no point in bothering about people with dementia.

“Instead we should all take the time and trouble to understand dementia better and to offer help and hope where we can. Above all we need to keep reminding society that people with dementia are still fully human and that they should be protected by the law.”

The trend to ‘mercy kill’ dementia sufferers intensifies

The concept of killing those who suffer with neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia has become common practice throughout some European countries. During 2016, 116 people in the Netherlands were killed by medically assisted death because they suffered from dementia.

Since the Netherlands legalised Euthanasia in 2001, the numbers of those dementia sufferers who are euthanised by their doctor has soared by over 1000%.

Earlier this month, a Dutch doctor who drugged an elderly patient with dementia and ordered her family to hold her down so she could be euthanised by lethal injection, was acquitted of murder. A court in the Hague, found the un-named doctor to have acted “with due care and fulfilled the criteria of the Netherlands’ euthanasia law.”

Alex Schadenburg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has warned that the ruling amounts to an expansion of Dutch euthanasia law, allowing for the killing of people with dementia and more euthanasia without explicit consent.