British Woman Convicted of Mercy Killing Released

By Shannon Kelley 12/16/13

After five years in prison, Frances Inglis has been released following her conviction for injecting her brain-damaged son with a lethal dose of heroin. And she still says it was the right thing to do.

Frances Inglis Photo via

Frances Inglis, a 61-year-old British woman convicted of killing her son by injecting him with a lethal dose of heroin, was released from prison last week. Now free after serving five years, she insists that her motivation was love and mercy, and does not regret her actions.

In July 2007, Inglis’ son Tom was involved in a fight outside a pub in Essex, where he sustained a concussion, and then, disoriented from that injury, jumped from the back of the ambulance taking him to the hospital and suffered catastrophic head injuries. Surgeons performed emergency surgery that involved removing a large portion of his skull to reduce the pressure on his brain. While the procedure kept Tom alive, it also left him severely brain damaged and Inglis questioning then and now whether that was the right decision.

In an interview with the UK’s Daily Mail her first interview since her release Inglis remained confident that her decision to end her son’s life was the right course of action. “Some people believe that life should be saved at any cost, but I don’t,” she said. “I begged medical staff not to perform the operation. I was told: ‘He’ll die without it,’ and I said: ‘Please don’t do it. I will allow him to die.'”

Consumed with finding a way to end her son’s suffering, she considered the options, but knew she couldn’t bear the thought of removing the feeding tube and allowing her son to die that way. So clearly desperate, she sought out heroin. Twice. Her first attempt came just weeks after his accident, which led to her arrest and release on bail. But Inglis remained determined to end her son’s misery and ultimately tricked the hospital into letting her inside, where she injected Tom several times with heroin.

Inglis recalled the decision, saying, “I wanted Tom’s death to be painless, peaceful and quick. I researched on the Internet and thought that with heroin he would float away. I thought it would be a kind death.”

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix
shannon kelley.jpeg

Shannon Kelley is the author of the book Undecided and a columnist at the Santa Barbara Independent. Her work has appeared in Woman's Day, The Christian Science Monitor and Santa Barbara Magazine. Find her on Linkedin or follow her on Twitter.