Thursday, July 15, 2010

Edinburgh man is sentenced to jail for attempting to kill his disabled wife

An interesting article in yesterdays BBC News concerns John Millar (67), from Edinburgh, who has been convicted and sentenced for four-and-a-half years for attempting to kill his wife, Phyllis Millar (65), who has multiple sclerosis.

This is an interesting case because Mr. Miller claims that his wife, Phyllis wanted to die, while Phyllis denies that she wanted to die. Similar cases of homicide/suicide are often reported by the media and the euthanasia lobby as acts of mercy but the reality is that most of these cases have nothing to do with compassion.

In fact, in Idaho, Kathryn Tucker from Compassion & Choices is using a similar story, except that the husband did kill his wife, to argue that they need to legalize assisted suicide.

The story stated:
John Millar, 67, claimed he was trying to end her suffering when he attacked Phyllis Millar, 65, at their home in Ravelston on 28 June 2009.

Mrs Millar, who has multiple sclerosis, denied claims by her husband that she said she wanted to die. ...

He attempted to smother his wife with a pillow.

On sentencing, Lady Smith said: "On 28 June 2009, far from acting in a caring fashion towards your wife, without provocation and for no apparent reason, you quite deliberately tried to kill her.

"Preying on her vulnerability, you picked up a pillow and held it over her face in an attack which lasted for about five minutes.

"Fortunately your wife was able to get one of her hands between her face and the pillow so as to enable her to breathe and to shout for you to stop. You eventually did so."

Millar himself dialled 999, telling police: "I tried to kill my wife."

While being questioned later, he told officers: "She would be dead and out of the way.

"When I say out of the way, you know, she would be, perhaps, not having to put up with, you know, her life and it was my life too, I suppose, really."

Suicide researcher Donna Cohan has found that cases of murder-suicide or spousal homicide are rarely acts of mercy.

Although each murder-suicide among older people is different, researchers say there is a typical pattern:

• The man kills the woman in their bedroom with a gun -- an act he has thought about for weeks or months.

• The woman has Alzheimer's disease or another illness, and the man is depressed, often exhausted, perhaps sick himself, and under strain as the primary caregiver.

• The woman is rarely a willing or knowing participant. She usually is killed in her sleep.

• The man almost always mistakenly believes he is acting with mercy, putting the woman out of her misery. Instead, he is ending his own misery.

• There may be warning signs that can help families prevent the tragedy.

Links to original articles:

Links to articles about homicide-suicide:

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