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Widow pays tribute to 'courageous' terminally husband who took own life

By West Briton  |  Posted: September 20, 2012

  • Anne Hobkinson told the inquest of her husband's death. Inset: Thomas Hobkinson. s: Sean Hernon

A WIDOW has described how her "courageous, strong-willed and determined" terminally ill husband took his own life before he became "imprisoned" by his condition.

Thomas Hobkinson, from Falmouth, was in the end stages of motor neurone disease when he overdosed on drugs he bought over the internet, an inquest heard.

The 71-year-old saw a TV programme about euthanasia by author and right-to-die campaigner Sir Terry Pratchett and bought a handbook online about how to commit suicide.

Mr Hobkinson, in a wheelchair and struggling to swallow and breathe, had for months "frequently and vehemently" told friends and carers he planned to end his life.

"When he discovered equipment was needed for his breathing he said it would have imprisoned him," said his wife Anne, with whom he had sons Ashley, 38, and Ben, 28. "It was impossible to persuade him to keep going. He was always optimistic, cheerful and courageous, but he wanted to be in control of his destiny."

She told the inquest how on September 29 last year her husband, formerly a keen sailor, had said he was ready to die.

"He told me to go to bed and take a sleeping pill," she said. "We said our goodbyes and as I left the room he told me not to forget the heating instructions for the flat were in the bottom drawer. That was typical – pragmatic until the last.

"I was hoping it wasn't going to work, but on the other hand it was what he wanted. I respected his wishes but I wouldn't assist him with it."

She left her husband in his wheelchair in the living room at about 10.45pm, watching a DVD of Ben's wedding. It took place the month before, having been moved from December so Mr Hobkinson could be there.

Mrs Hobkinson woke at about 3am and found him dead with a typed suicide note, signed and dated, which read: "I have committed euthanasia by my own hand and without any assistance. If I am alive in the morning I do not want to be resuscitated."

Detective Constable David Palmer said e-mails between Mr Hobkinson and a Mexican contact thought to have supplied the medication he used to kill himself were found on his laptop.

When coroner Emma Carlyon asked if there had been any third-party involvement, assistance or pressure for him to do it, Detective Constable Palmer said: "Absolutely none whatsoever."

Dr Carlyon recorded a verdict that Mr Hobkinson had killed himself.

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