Dignitas death for wife who tried to murder her husband

A woman who attempted to smother her seriously ill husband to death, despite his objections, has ended her life in a Swiss suicide clinic.

The 1999 trial of Vicki Wood, who died at the Dignitas facility last Friday, was seen as a watershed in the nation’s debate on assisted suicide.

During the trial a High Court Judge heard how the couple lay in bed together, listening to Beethoven and eating doughnuts, when Mrs Wood attempted to smother her husband using a pillow.

Attempted murder

The couple, who were married for 20 years, were both members of a euthanasia society.

Describing the 1999 event Mrs Wood said: “I told him I loved him and everything would be all right. He went on struggling but I told him I loved him and I was doing it for him.”

But the murder attempt failed when her husband, Tim Wood, began to struggle, complaining that he couldn’t breathe, and fell out of bed.

Mr Wood, who broke his hip falling out of the bed, fought for his life, saying “Sweetie, I can’t breathe”.

Probation

Mrs Wood was sentenced to two years probation.

Her case highlights pro-life groups’ concerns that any relaxation of the law on assisted suicide could expose vulnerable people to danger.

Earlier this week former Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt controversially called for a public inquiry to consider legalising assisted suicide, during a debate in the House of Commons.

Prosecution

Miss Hewitt’s call followed the publication last month of prosecution guidelines which state that people are unlikely to be prosecuted for assisting a suicide if they are “motivated by compassion”.

But Dr Peter Saunders, of the Care Not Killing alliance, criticised the guidance, saying: “Anyone who takes part in an assisted suicide is going to claim they were acting out of compassion. The only witness who really knows will be dead.”

And Richard Hawkes, chief executive of disability charity Scope, said: “Many disabled people are frightened by the consequences of these new guidelines and with good reason.”

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