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Court's decision due on Melksham right-to-die man's case
8:21am Thursday 16th August 2012 in Melksham
Melksham locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson learns today whether he has won his High Court battle for the right to end his life when he chooses.
The court was told that his existence of "pure torture" could continue, if he cannot end it, for another 20 years or more.
Mr Nicklinson, 58, was left paralysed by a catastrophic stroke while on a business trip to Athens in 2005. He sums up his existence as "dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable": a life that he does not wish to live for decades to come.
In a right-to-die case with important general implications, Mr Nicklinson is asking London's High Court to rule that a doctor should lawfully be able to end his life without fear of prosecution.
Lord Justice Toulson, Mr Justice Royce and Mrs Justice Macur are also considering an application for judicial review by another locked-in syndrome victim who needs help to end his life.
Part of the case brought by the 47-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons but who is referred to as Martin, involves a challenge against the Director of Public Prosecution's policy on assisted suicide.
In a recent hearing of his application, Mr Nicklinson said he objects to having his right to choose death taken away from him.
Paul Bowen QC said on behalf of Mr Nicklinson: "Tony has now had almost seven years to contemplate his situation. With the continuing benefits of 21st-century health and social care, his life expectancy can be expected to be normal: another 20 years or more. He does not wish to live that life."
A "very active and outgoing" man before the stroke, he was left paralysed below the neck and unable to speak. He now communicates by blinking or with limited head movement.
Mr Nicklinson was being condemned to live in a state of suffering and indignity by the law on assisted suicide and euthanasia, which is "anomalous and discriminatory", argued Mr Bowen.
He said it does not stop the "widespread practice of euthanasia but has forced it underground".
David Perry QC, for the Ministry of Justice, said Mr Nicklinson's "tragic and very distressing circumstances evoke the deepest sympathy".
But he said: "Notwithstanding the distressing facts of his situation, the defendant submits that the claim for declarations is untenable. The law is well established."
Mr Perry said there is "no defence of necessity to a charge of murder or assisted suicide if a doctor were to terminate, or assist in the termination of, the claimant's life".
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