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Daughter ‘took father from care home to Dignitas’

Sandra Holmes, of Llanrwst, North Wales, pictured in 2006, allegedly asked care home staff if she could take her father on holiday

A daughter allegedly told a care home she was taking her 93-year-old father on holiday then travelled to Switzerland where he ended his life.

John Lenton, who was 93 and suffering from Parkinson’s disease, died three months ago at the controversial Dignitas facility in Forch, Switzerland.

Mr Lenton was living at the Cartref Bryn yr Eglwys home in Pentrefoelas, Conwy, North Wales, when it is alleged that his daughter Sandra Holmes asked staff if she could take him on holiday.

A doctor is believed to have assessed him as being fit to travel and make his own decisions before he left with his daughter on October 23 last year.

Six days later the care home was informed he had travelled to the Swiss clinic and had ended his life.

The care home then contacted Conwy Council’s safeguarding adults team, who advised it to contact North Wales Police.

Ms Holmes, 66, of Llanrwst, said a regulation 38 notification of a death notice had been passed anonymously to the Daily Post Wales without the family’s permission.

John Lenton was living at the Cartref Bryn yr Eglwys home (above) in Pentrefoelas, Conwy

John Lenton was living at the Cartref Bryn yr Eglwys home (above) in Pentrefoelas, Conwy

The care home contacted the local safeguarding adults team, who advised it to contact police

The care home contacted the local safeguarding adults team, who advised it to contact police

She added: ‘This is a private family matter of no public interest. I feel this is not the right moment to discuss this in the Press.

‘However, I am more than willing to discuss the right to die at a later, more appropriate time.’

She also told MailOnline from her terraced home on the main street in Llanrwst today: ‘It is with the CPS. At the moment I have no comment.’ 

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Harrison said: ‘North Wales Police are aware of the death of a male from the Pentrefoelas area in Switzerland, and are currently looking into the circumstances surrounding his death.

‘There have been no arrests made in connection with this matter and no further information will be released at this time.’

Under UK law, it is a crime to encourage or assist a suicide, and the offence carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

Mr Lenton died three months ago at the controversial Dignitas facility (above) in Switzerland

Mr Lenton died three months ago at the controversial Dignitas facility (above) in Switzerland

With end of life choice limited under current UK law, it is believed up to ten British citizens a month choose to die at the Swiss clinic, which was set up in 1998.

According to the charity Dignity In Dying, prosecution is less likely when the person had reached a voluntary, clear, settled and informed decision to end their life and the person suspected of assisting them was wholly motivated by compassion.

Its chief executive Sarah Wooton said: ‘The law should change to allow assisted dying as an option for terminally ill, mentally competent adults who are suffering unbearably in their final six months of life.’

The Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales said the care home had ‘kept us informed’ but referred all other enquiries to police. The home declined to comment.

For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123, visit a local Samaritans branch or see www.samaritans.org for details 

Assisted suicide in Britain: How anyone helping someone to take their life can face 14 years in jail

Terminally ill Noel Conway, of Shrewsbury, is trying challenge a ruling he says denies him a 'peaceful and dignified' death

Terminally ill Noel Conway, of Shrewsbury, is trying challenge a ruling he says denies him a ‘peaceful and dignified’ death

Under the Suicide Act 1961, anyone helping or encouraging someone to take their own life in England or Wales can be prosecuted and jailed for up to 14 years if found guilty of an offence.

Section two of the act states that a person commits an offence if they carry out an act capable of encouraging or assisting the suicide or attempted suicide of another person, and the act was intended to encourage or assist suicide or an attempt at suicide.

In 2015 MPs including former prime minister David Cameron rejected a Bill to legalise assisted dying.

Opposition to changing the law has come from faith groups, campaigners who say disabled people may feel pressured to end their lives and campaigners who fear assisted dying would become a business.

Earlier this month, terminally ill Noel Conway won the first stage of a court bid to challenge a ruling he says denies him a ‘peaceful and dignified’ death.

The 68-year-old says he feels ‘entombed’ by motor neurone disease and wants medics to be able to help him die when he has just six months left to live.

The retired lecturer from Shrewsbury lost a High Court fight in October last year to allow him to bring about his death in the way he wishes. But he has now been given the go-ahead for a full hearing at the Court of Appeal.



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