Two arrests over assisted suicide of disabled man

Two people have been arrested in connection with the death of a severely disabled man at the highly controversial Dignitas facility in Switzerland.

Douglas Sinclair, who was suffering from a rare debilitating disorder, is believed to have travelled to the suicide facility in Zurich to end his life in July.

And now Northumbria Police have confirmed that they have arrested two people in connection with his death.


A spokesman for the force said: “A 47-year-old woman and a 48-year-old man from South Shields have been arrested on suspicion of intentionally doing an act to assist or encourage suicide following the death of a 76-year-old man in Switzerland.

“Both have been bailed pending further inquiries.”

The case is likely to reinforce concern that any attempt to relax the nation’s laws on assisted suicide and euthanasia would expose some of society’s most vulnerable members to danger.


Christopher Potts, Mr Sinclair’s solicitor, said: “He’d made this decision that he wanted to die and wanted legal advice.

“I made him aware of the legal position and that there could be arrests if he was helped to die.”

Earlier this year Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, issued guidance indicating that prosecutions for assisted suicide would be unlikely if the killer was “wholly motivated by compassion”, but that prosecutions would be made in other circumstances.


In June it was revealed that a retired GP who helped a cancer stricken man kill himself would not face trial, despite there being enough evidence to “provide a realistic” prospect of conviction.

And earlier in the year Dr Michael Irwin had written to Mr Starmer, and admitted helping terminally ill Raymond Cutkelvin commit suicide at the Dignitas facility in Switzerland.

Mr Starmer, drawing on his assisted suicide prosecution guidelines, announced that Dr Irwin wouldn’t stand trial because it was “highly unlikely” that a court would jail a 79-year-old man.

And in March it was revealed that the son of renowned conductor Sir Edward Downes, who helped his parents commit suicide, would not be prosecuted.

Mr Starmer revealed that Caractacus Downes would not be prosecuted despite there being sufficient evidence, claiming that a prosecution would not be in the public interest.

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