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EDITIONS
 Monday, 20 January, 2003, 15:03 GMT
Briton's assisted suicide goes ahead
Reginald Crew and wife Win
Mr Crew has suffered the disease for four years
A man who was terminally ill with motor neurone disease has died after his assisted suicide bid went ahead in Switzerland.

Reginald Crew, 74, from Hunt's Cross, Liverpool, is thought to be one of the first UK citizens to take advantage of more relaxed laws on assisted suicide in the country.

Assisted suicide remains illegal in the UK, despite a number of legal challenges.

Mr Crew ended his life just after 1400 GMT on Monday with a fatal dose of barbiturates, prepared by a doctor.

I don't want to go on living like this - I have had enough

Reginald Crew
Mr Crew had suffered from the debilitating disease for more than four years.

Motor neurone disease has the effect of a creeping paralysis - for which there is no cure.

Mr Crew killed himself with the help of the "assisted suicide group" Dignitas in Switzerland.

Although there is nothing concrete in the Swiss penal code that says assisted suicide is legal, the practice of helping a terminally-ill patient to end his or her life is widely considered as a "humane act".

Unless the person helping is proven to be acting out of self-seeking motives, prosecution is extremely unlikely.

Mental assessment

Doctors in Zurich assessed Mr Crew on Monday to check he was mentally capable of making a decision.

Earlier this month, Mr Crew told the BBC: "I have had motor neurone disease for four years now.

"I don't want to go on living like this. I have had enough."

It was thought Mr Crew was accompanied by his wife, Win, when he died.

Ludwig Minelli, who set up Dignitas, said: "The doctor involved speaks to members of the family.

'Extremely sad'

"They are usually extremely sad to be losing a loved one.

"They don't object, but even if they did, they don't have the power to stop the procedure because it is up to the individual if he wants to die."

The most recent challenge to the laws on assisted suicide came from Diane Pretty, who argued that she had the human right to choose when to die.

Her arguments were rejected in the UK courts and that ruling upheld in Europe.

Mrs Pretty died shortly after her court action failed.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Emma-Jane Kirby
"The British Government views assisted suicide as a crime"
  Agnes Fletcher, Disability Rights Commission
"We simply have to step back and look at the implications of changing the law"
  Diane Pretty's husband Brian
"Diane was never a burden to me"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Talking Point: Assisted suicideRight to die
Can assisted suicide be justified?

Click here to go to Liverpool

As Diane Pretty loses her appeal, a Dutch doctor reflects on a patient he helped to die
'I helped a patient die'

See also:

20 Jan 03 | Europe
20 Aug 01 | J-M
20 Jan 03 | Health
12 Aug 02 | Newsnight
29 Apr 02 | Health
Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


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