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Frances Inglis loses appeal against murder conviction

12 November 2010

The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by Frances Inglis, convicted of murder after giving a heroin overdose to her brain damaged son.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, sitting with Mr Justice Irwin and Mr Justice Holroyde, said the case “involved one of the most difficult sentencing decisions faced in this court”.

Thomas Inglis was a healthy 21-year-old when he was involved in a fight and taken to hospital, against his will, in an ambulance.

The court heard that the door of the ambulance opened three times on the way to the hospital and the third time, Thomas fell out, suffering catastrophic head injuries.

Two months later, his mother tried to kill him by injecting him with heroin as he lay in his hospital bed in Romford. Although he was resuscitated, his condition deteriorated and Inglis was charged with attempted murder.

Just over a year later, in November 2008, she breached bail and successfully murdered him, again by injecting him with heroin.

“It is as well to emphasise at the outset that this was not, and it has never been suggested that it was, an assisted suicide,” Lord Judge said.

He said there was “no doubt about the genuineness of her belief that her actions in preparing for and eventually killing Thomas represented an act of mercy” or that the grief consequent on the loss of her son had diminished.

“These are powerful considerations, far removed from the ordinary case of murder,” the Lord Chief Justice said.

“However the appellant’s culpability is reduced, it is not extinguished. She had resolved to kill Thomas within a very short time of the accident, almost in its immediate aftermath, and well before the long-term results of the operations and treatment could be known, and indeed while the remaining members of Thomas’ family were still hoping that he would survive.

“She was convinced that she, and she alone, knew what was best for Thomas, to such an obsessive extent that any view to the contrary, however it was expressed, was to be rejected out of hand.

“This was not a moment or two of isolated thinking, but a settled intention. She tried to kill Thomas and did eventually kill him without a thought to the feelings of anyone else, including his father and his brothers, and indeed the members of the medical professions who were doing their very best to care for him.”

Rejecting the appeal against her murder conviction and mandatory life sentence, the Court of Appeal cut the minimum term from nine years to five.

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