An English chemist charged with murder for the 2015 killing of his 85-year-old father, who wished to die, was freed on Friday by a judge who said, “Your acts of assistance were acts of pure compassion and mercy.”
Bipin Desai, 58, was also charged with assisted suicide and two counts of theft. Desai gave his father, Dhirajlal Desai, a smoothie laced with stolen morphine at his home in Surrey on Aug. 26, 2015. Desai soon after injected his father with insulin to speed the morphine's fatal action.
The judge ruled Nov. 17 that because Dhirajlal Desai wished to die, there was no basis for a murder conviction.
Dr. Anthony McCarthy of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children responded to the ruling asking, “Are we now to believe that the killing of an innocent and vulnerable human being who is 'tired of life' is not to be regarded as any serious crime?”
Bipin Desai pleaded guilty to assisted suicide and the theft of the morphine and insulin from his employer. He was given a suspended nine-month jail sentence, and allowed to go free.
The judge, Justice Green, said that to convict Desai of murder would be “perverse and irrational … Your father had a solid and firm wish to die. For him, being assisted to die would be fulfilling his wish of going to heaven to see his wife and being put out of his misery.”
Green said the evidence “provides no support for the prosecution case, to the contrary it unequivocally supports the defence position that this is assisted suicide but not murder,” and that Desai had been “wrongfully accused of murder.”
According to Desai, his father had been asking to end his life after the 2003 death of his wife and the 2010 death of his dog. Desai's lawyer, Natasha Wong, said in court that “what we have is a man who wanted to die, not because he was terribly ill but, sadly, because he had just had enough of life.”
Though Desai also admitted to stealing the drugs used to kill his father, Green said that “the thefts are trivial and only form part of the fabric of the wider case. The owner of the pharmacy said in his evidence that you were an honest, respectful and decent man.”
“You are free to now go with your family and start the process of rebuilding your life,” he continued.
Assisted suicide and euthanasia are both criminal offenses in England and Wales under the Suicide Act 1961, and are punishable by imprisonment.
A representative of the assisted suicide advocacy group Dignity in Dying said the case showed the need for “safe and compassionate” laws which decriminalized assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Peter Saunders of Care Not Killing responded that “This case underlines the need for better support for those caring for elderly and disabled relatives but does not mean the law should change.”
A bill to legalize assisted dying in England and Wales failed in Parliament in 2015 by a vote of 330-118.
The Suicide Act 1961 was challenged in High Court last month by a terminally ill man, Noel Conway, who wanted a doctor to be able to prescribe him a lethal dose. His case was dismissed.
In jurisdictions where assisted suicide or euthanasia are legal, the procedures usually require that the individual have a terminal illness and that the fatal drugs are prescribed by a doctor. In the handful of states in the U.S. which have legalized assisted suicide, the individual must have a terminal illness which would lead to death over the course of the next six months.
The Desai case could add to the growing list of assisted suicide abuses found around the world in which pressure is placed on individuals to kill themselves, or in which patients are held down against their wills during lethal injection.
Anthony McCarthy of SPUC said, “It is shocking that a High Court Judge in this country should speak with such approval of an adult son who 'sends his father to heaven'. Serious crimes can be 'well-motivated' and indeed, mentally ill parents who kill their healthy children sometimes also talk of 'sending them to heaven'.”
“What now of any respect for laws and investigations which seek to protect the ineliminable value of all human lives, regardless of feelings of sadness and loss on the victim's part which may perhaps respond to loving care and professional help?”