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Paralysed player killed himself

10 December 08 16:52 GMT

A paralysed rugby player who died in a Swiss assisted suicide clinic killed himself, a coroner has ruled.

Coroner Geraint Williams said he had no doubt that Daniel James intended to end his own life when he visited the Dignitas clinic in September.

Mr James, 23, from Worcester, had been left paralysed from the chest down 18 months earlier in a rugby accident.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has said it would not be in the public interests to prosecute his parents.

Mr James' father Mark told the inquest, held at Stourport-on-Severn Coroner's Court, about the moment his son drank a substance intended to kill him.

Prescribed poison

He said they had pre-booked a hotel in Switzerland and met the people from Dignitas while they were there.

"We had to take Dan to see a doctor over there on two occasions and there had to be a break between seeing the doctor.

"They had to interview Dan to find out that everything was as Dan said it was."

The doctor then prescribed a poison, he said.

He added: "A lady explained to Dan what was going to happen and asked Dan several times if that was his wishes, because she said when he takes this drink, obviously he will die.

"She asked did he want to proceed or have some time to think about what was going to happen to him.

"He said no. The drink was brought and he took it on his own."

Collapsed scrum

In delivering his verdict, Mr Williams told Mr James' parents: "Nothing I can say will make your loss easier to bear. Please accept my condolences."

The inquest was told that Mr James' cause of death was poisoning and that he died peacefully.

The former pupil at Worcester Royal Grammar School played rugby for England Under-16s and England students and was tipped for a future in the professional game.

But he had been paralysed from the chest down since a scrum collapsed on him during training with Nuneaton Rugby Club in March 2007.

Assisting a suicide is illegal in the UK and Mr James' parents, Mark and Julie, of Sinton Green, Worcester, were investigated by West Mercia Police following his death.

But the Crown Prosecution Service said while there was "sufficient evidence" to charge them, it was not in the public interest to do so as Mr James's decision had not been influenced by his parents.

After the inquest, the family's solicitor issued a statement saying they were "not campaigners" for euthanasia or assisted suicide and believed every case should be judged on its own merits.

He said they had "purely helped their son carry out his affirmed wish", adding: "They did help their son as has been documented but only after they tried to dissuade him from his determined act.

"If he had not suffered from his disability they would not in any event have allowed him to make that journey alone.

"My clients are obviously relieved that the DPP has come to its decision, a decision which many commentators have seen as sensible in the circumstances."

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