Thursday, February 24, 2011

'I am racked by guilt'

Canadians will once again begin a national debate on euthanasia based on the case of Stephan Bolton who yesterday admitted to intentionally killing his wife, Barbara, with a lethal cocktail of pain killers.

Stephan Bolton went into the RCMP yesterday to confess that he intentionally gave his wife, who had stage 4 breast cancer, a lethal cocktail of morphine and Nozinan. He told the RCMP that he had not discussed euthanasia with his wife and he was confessing to the crime because he felt "racked by guilt"

He stated:
"It's been over a month. Over that month I tried to live with it and I just can't - not without being told by (some) authority that what I did wasn't wrong"
The RCMP stated in their media release:
Queens County RCMP Investigating Possible Homicide

February 24, 2011, Liverpool, Nova Scotia....Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Queens County Detachment, are investigating a possible homicide. On February 23, 2011, at 11:00 a.m. a 56 year-old man walked into the Queens County RCMP Detachment to confess his involvement in the death of a 59-year old woman. The RCMP Southwest Nova Major Crime Unit along with Queens County RCMP Detachment are in the preliminary stages of their investigation.

The suspect is currently in custody as the investigation continues. Further investigation is required to determine if charges will be laid. The investigators are treating this as a very serious incident.
Bolton said that his wife was not suffering physical pain but that she was very depressed.

Euthanasia is an act that is prosecuted as a homicide in the Criminal Code. To legalize euthanasia would mean, giving one person the right to directly and intentionaly cause the death of another person.

Canada needs to maintain our laws prohibiting euthanasia to protect people from others who, like Bolton, may decide to ease their own pain by taking the life of another person.

I have great concern about how we care for people with cancer, about how we provide end-of-life care for Canadians, about how we support the families, but Canada needs to recognize that the concept of legalizing euthanasia threatens the lives of vulnerable Canadians.

The article in the Nova Scotia Chronicle Herald sated:
Stephan Bolton got into his white taxi late Wednesday morning with a heavy heart.

He pulled out of the driveway in front of the pale green mobile home where he had lived with his late wife, Barbara, her black Dodge SX 2.0 still in the driveway, promoting her photography business in pink letters.

Bolton drove the few minutes to the Queens RCMP detachment on the other side of Liverpool to tell police he had played a role in his terminally ill wife’s death last month.

But before he did that, Bolton telephoned The Chronicle Herald to explain that he wanted to go public to spur much-needed public debate about the issue of euthanasia.

“I don’t have an agenda. I have a guilty conscience,” he said.

And then he told this newspaper what he said he did.

It was Jan. 22.

His wife, 59, was suffering with Stage 4 breast cancer and in palliative care, with Bolton her primary caregiver.

One Liverpool resident who asked not to be named said it was well known in the community that Barbara was very ill and in great distress.

Stephan Bolton said his wife had, at most, a couple of months to live.

While she wasn’t in terrible pain, Bolton told The Herald his wife was very depressed. He said he gave her a lethal injection of two medications — morphine and Nozinan — and was taking the drugs to the detachment with him.

They had not discussed the possibility of euthanasia, he said, or did he ask Barbara if she wanted the lethal injections.

His wife’s suffering ended that January day. Bolton’s did not.

He said he has been haunted by his actions.

“It’s been over a month. Over that month, I tried to live with it and I just can’t — not without being told by (some) authority that what I did wasn’t wrong. I am racked by guilt and have to somehow resolve it.”

Bolton said he has discussed the issue with people but has gained no sense of relief or well being.

“I can’t resolve it through more discussion. I am not happy (with turning myself in), but you have to weigh things and sometimes happiness is not the most important thing.”

Cpl. Grant Webber, a detachment spokesman, confirmed a 56-year-old man turned himself in to the RCMP office at 11 a.m. to confess to “a possible homicide.”

“At this time, no charges have been laid,” Webber said in an interview late Wednesday afternoon.

The officer would not name the man because he had not been charged, but he did say the man would be held in the detachment overnight.

Bolton’s white taxi was in the detachment most of the day but was gone by late afternoon.

The man who was being questioned by police did speak with a Nova Scotia Legal Aid lawyer. Johnette Royer left the detachment by a side entrance shortly before 5 p.m. but declined to give an interview.

Earlier in the day, Bolton told this newspaper that he does not want to be a poster boy for euthanasia, but he does believe public debate is in order.

“It’s time we decided these issues (and they are) not swept under the carpet.”

He said he wants to take responsibility for his actions and will accept the outcome if he is charged.

Webber said officers with the Southwest Nova major crime unit and the Queens RCMP detachment are investigating.

“Further investigation is required to determine if charges will be laid,” he said in a news release. “The investigators are treating this as a very serious incident.”

In addition to her husband, Barbara Jollimore-Bolton is survived by her parents, three adult children and seven grandchildren.

She was described in her obituary as “a passionate, free spirit who loved to travel, loved the outdoors and loved to laugh.”

She was well known in the community, owning a cab company called B.J.’s Taxi and a photography business.

“Best described as a strong woman, her fiery personality and enduring sense of humour will be missed by all those she encountered,” the obituary said.

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