The law’s an ass

William Maguire, 72, committed suicide by taking a cocktail of drugs in the garage of his home on the Isle of Wight, in the UK. His son, William Maguire Jnr, was arrested on suspicion of assisting a suicide – currently a criminal offence – but released without charge.

An inquest into the cause of death has heard that Maguire died from a mixture of alcohol, Tramadol – an opioid  – and Zopiclone, used to treat insomnia. He suffered from severe lung disease, raised blood pressure, bowel inflammation, an enlarged prostate, carpel tunnel syndrome and depression. The final nail in the coffin was a diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease. He was told that within six months he would be totally incapacitated and unable to eat or drink.

On the evening of 1 March 2015 Maguire Jnr helped his father into the car and left him with a bottle of whisky, three sleeping pills and liquid Tramadol. William Maguire left a suicide note which read: “I do not wish to be resuscitated. I just want to die. I cannot live with this illness.”

The assistant coroner in the case, John Matthews said: “I express my sympathy and condolences to you Mr Maguire [Jnr], you were in a distressing situation. I am sorry you have been placed in the position you find yourself in. You did it out of great love.”

In the UK around 300 terminally ill people kill themselves every year. They are usually forced to do it in very difficult circumstances, like William Maguire. Only those with sufficient money can afford to go to Dignitas in Switzerland. For Dignitas’s services you have to pay a one-off joining fee of £148 then an annual member fee of £59. For the actual assisted death it can cost around £9,000.