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Friday, 14 July, 2000, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
Medical row family jailed
David Glass
Doctors thought David Glass was going to die
Members of a family who attacked two doctors during a row over treatment for their profoundly disabled nephew have been sent to prison.

Relatives of David Glass ran riot at St Mary's Hospital, Portsmouth, when doctors suggested that treatment should be withheld from the sick child, who they thought was close to death.

In the event, doctors did not withdraw treatment and David, who was 12 years old at the time, survived.

People who have committed assaults on medical staff are likely to face custodial sentences

Judge Roger Shawcross

The boy's uncle Raymond Davis, 43, and his aunts Julie Hodgson, 37, and Diane Wild were convicted last month by a jury at Portsmouth Crown Court of violent disorder and attacking Dr Mark Ashton at the hospital in October 1998, causing actual bodily harm.

Wild, 42, was also found guilty of attacking Dr Joanne Walker on the same date.

Wild was jailed on Friday for a total of 12 months; Davies received a total of nine months and Hodgson was sentenced to a total of nine months.

At the time of conviction, Judge Roger Shawcross said: "Any court that has to deal with people who have committed assaults on people of the medical or nursing staff, or anyone like that, might immediately be bound to say you are likely to face custodial sentences."

The case hit the headlines last year when David's mother Carol launched an unsuccessful legal bid to ban doctors from refusing potentially life-saving treatment to her son without first obtaining court guidance.

Chest infection

The court heard that Dr Ashton, a paediatrician, needed surgery after he was kicked and punched.

Dr Ashton broke down in the witness box at Portsmouth Crown Court as he recalled the attack.

St Mary's Hospital, Portsmouth
The assault took place at St Mary's Hospital, Porstmouth

He said violence flared in the children's ward after a row over the treatment of David, a profoundly mentally and physically disabled boy, who was expected to die within hours from a chest infection.

He said the atmosphere was frightening and abusive and said he heard one woman tell Dr Walker: "If he dies I am going to break your neck and mash you to a pulp before you can hit the panic button."

He then had to pull the woman off Dr Walker, but was bitten as a policeman stepped in.

He was pulled outside the room and punched, kicked and head-butted by waiting relatives, he said.

Dr Ashton said he had needed surgery on his knee after the attack and had still not fully recovered.

His colleague Dr Walker also had to be treated for injuries to her shoulder, head, arm, abdomen, knee, chest and face after the attack, the court heard.

Doctors can be capable of discriminatory assumptions about the value of disabled people's lives

Jim Hoskisson, Scope

David was born with the brain condition hydranencephaly, which left him profoundly mentally and physically handicapped.

Doctors genuinely thought he was going to die and wanted to give him diamorphine to ease his pain and distress, but not to speed his death, they told the jury.

But his family opposed the treatment and accused doctors of trying to kill the boy.

He was discharged from the hospital on the night of the attack.

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07 Jun 00 | Health
Right-to-life family deny assault
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