Dr Howard Martin's ex-wife 'against helping son to die'


The ex-wife of a GP who gave excessive morphine to his dying son said she would not have backed his decision.

Dr Howard Martin, 75, has admitted helping 18 patients to die out of "Christian compassion", including his cancer-stricken son Paul, 31, in 1988.

Speaking five years ago in an interview which has only now been aired, Sheila Martin said she would never have agreed with him "finishing off" their son.

The County Durham GP has been struck off by the General Medical Council.

In 2005, Dr Martin was found not guilty of murdering patients Frank Moss, 59, Stanley Weldon and Harry Gittins, both 74.

Friday's GMC disciplinary panel found he had not acted negligently, but it did say he had "violated the rights of the terminally ill".

He was struck off for the "completely unacceptable" treatment of some patients.

In the interview, Mrs Martin told the BBC: "Who knows? you can't say, whether it is the morphine or the cancer which finally kills a patient.

"Nobody wants to watch anybody suffering, but I would not have agreed to a huge dose of morphine to finish Paul off - I don't agree with that.

"But if he needed medication for the pain or for the discomfort - I wouldn't be a fit mother if I disagreed with that either."

Image caption,
Mrs Martin said she would not have backed giving her son a "huge" dose

On Saturday, Dr Martin told the Daily Telegraph that, in two cases, he hastened the deaths of patients without their permission.

He said: "I twice helped people die, not because they wanted to die but because they had such dreadful suffering. Everyone else wanted to [die] - they could make that choice.

"There are times when you get called to people, maybe as a locum doctor, maybe as an emergency in their last day of life and you just don't have the time to go through all that formality.

"I have to treat the situation as I find it. My conscience is clear. I don't have anything to fear."

Regarding his dying son, he said: "What more could I do for him other than make sure he had dignity?"

He added: "I don't believe I've killed any patients. I believe I've made them comfortable in their hour of need.

"But I am deemed to be arrogant because I used my discretion."

On Saturday, Durham Police said they were considering "whether there were any new grounds on which to reopen the investigation" into Dr Martin's actions.

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