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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 November, 2004, 13:24 GMT
Cancer patient 'would use hitman'
Peter Chesterfield
Peter Chesterfield wants the law to allow him to die without pain
A former actor with terminal cancer has said he is ready to hire a hitman to end his pain because euthanasia is not allowed under UK law.

Peter Chesterfield, 50, from Brighton, has been told he has up to 12 weeks to live after bladder cancer spread to his lungs, kidneys and abdomen.

He wants the law changed so terminally ill people can choose when to die and have a pain free death.

Police warned any potential gunman to "consider their position carefully".

Mr Chesterfield, who has appeared in Only Fools and Horses, EastEnders and Casualty, is bedridden and lives alone. He was diagnosed with cancer in March.

What he wants is a peaceful death, he's in excruciating pain and he can't understand why the law makes him suffer
Mark Slattery, of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society
"I didn't think it was possible for a human being to survive having experienced such pain," he said.

He has accused the government of denying him a dignified death and is urging a change in the law to legalise euthanasia.

"The way current legislation stands, the only way I can guarantee myself a pain free and instantaneous and clean death is to hire an expert killer to put a bullet in the back of my head," he said.

Sussex Police said it was a sad case but warned any potential hitman against helping Mr Chesterfield.

Spokesman Chris Oswick said: "This is clearly a tragic and very difficult set of circumstances and raises a lot of issues.

'Mitigating circumstances'

"However, any suggestion of seeking outside help to assist in his death would put that person in a difficult position to put it mildly.

"That person would be well advised to consider their position before proceeding."

The Home Office warned that under the law anyone who killed a terminally ill person could face life in jail.

"It would be up to the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to decide what would happen to the 'hitman' in a case like this," a spokeswoman said.

"It might be that they would take into account all the mitigating circumstances and bring a charge of manslaughter rather than murder, but the maximum sentence for manslaughter is still life."

Mark Slattery, of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, said: "Peter doesn't want a hitman - what he was really saying is that he wants a doctor to help him die legally.

"He is forced to consider this dramatic and desperate alternative, but it's only because the law in this country gives people no options that they sometimes look for desperate measures to help them when they are suffering.

"What he wants is a peaceful death, he's in excruciating pain and he can't understand why the law makes him suffer."

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