Saturday, May 26, 2007

'Harsh' Three Years For The Mercy Killer

A THREE-year jail sentence for a devoted husband who killed his wife after she begged him to help her die has been branded too harsh by a Calderdale priest.

Retired accountant Frank Lund, 58, formerly of Hebden Bridge, was sentenced to life and ordered to serve a minimum of three years in jail yesterday. He had admitted suffocating wife Patricia, 65, with a plastic bag and a pillow at their home in New Brighton, Merseyside, last September.

But Kevin Firth, Roman Catholic Dean of Halifax, said al-though Lund's actions went against Roman Catholic teaching, the sentence was "severe".

"The Christian teaching is that from conception to death, life should be preserved," he said.

"The Catholic church would view assisted suicide as wrong but it seems a severe sentence in the circumstances."

Mr Lund denied murder on the grounds that Mrs Lund, his wife of 33 years, had persuaded him to help her die after her life had been made miserable by an irritable bowel condition.His claims were not contested during a three-day trial at Liverpool Crown Court, where he was supported by his wife's relatives.

But he was found guilty after the jury was told to put aside sympathy and judge him on the fact he deliberately killed his wife.

The court heard that Mrs Lund's sons, Daniel and Stephen, wrote to the judge asking for leniency, stating Lund was only there because he loved his wife "absolutely and selflessly".

Lund's solicitor John Weate said the sons had suffered double grief, devastation at the loss of their mother and the consequences suffered by Lund, their stepfather. He said they would support Lund.

Mr Justice Silber described the case as "highly unusual if not unique."

Jannette Parsons, president of Calderdale Pensioners' Association, said people who carried out such acts should be prepared for jail.

A spokesman for pro-euthanasia group Dignity in Dying said: "The current law on assisted dying is failing the vulnerable. "

As it stands there is no sure way of knowing what Patricia Lund wanted.

"If the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill was in place, requests for help to die could be expressed openly."

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