‘How can they say I murdered Lynn when I loved her so much?

From the Daily Mail, 28 January 2010 (Story by Gill Swain)

Only after her daughter drew her last breath, says Kay Gilderdale, did she finally collapse sobbing, flinging herself across Lynn’s body as she clung to the only thought that brought her any comfort: this is what my daughter wanted. 

Three decades after giving birth to her, Kay had just helped to release her beloved daughter from a life which had become intolerable. The process had taken an agonising 30 hours.

Today – 13 months later – after being charged with attempted murder and a trial which ended in a not guilty verdict on Monday, Kay is worn thin by the strain.

She is still clearly overwhelmed by a profound sense of grief.

But despite the reservations of many that what she did was terribly wrong morally, she retains an inner serenity which comes from her belief that she did the right thing by Lynn.

‘I have never had a moment’s regret,’ she says. ‘If I had, I don’t think I would be able to cope. I know I did what Lynn needed and now she is at peace. I never wanted her to go. I wanted her to stay.

‘By helping her, I was going against what I was feeling and doing what I knew she wanted. The hardest thing that anybody can ever do in life is to watch their child die, when all you want to do is keep them here and make them better.’

Lynn, who was severely stricken with the chronic fatigue disease ME, had been talking about suicide for two years, but 55-year-old Kay had no idea she had settled on a day to do it. It began at 1.45am on December 3, 2008, when Lynn pressed the buzzer of an intercom, set up so she could summon her mother any time of the day or night.

Acutely tuned to all her needs after nursing her for 17 years, Kay woke instantly and hurried along the corridor of their house in Stonegate, East Sussex, to Lynn’s room.

As her daughter’s eyes found hers, Kay saw immediately what had happened: Lynn had removed the syringe of 210 milligrams of morphine (it helped her cope with the constant pain she was in) from the syringe driver which pumped it under her skin at a steady pace over 24 hours, and had attached it to a Hickman line used to take drugs into the body – which meant it would be fed straight into her veins.

‘She was crying and she held up the Hickman line with the syringe attached to it. I knew she was trying to kill herself because she had been telling me, as gently as she could, but persistently, every day: “Mum, you know I don’t want to be here.” She used to say to everyone: “You can’t fix me any more.”

‘I sat beside her. I was shocked and I thought I must talk her out of it. But I also accepted that it was her right to finish it if she wanted to. The one thought that hurt the most was that, if I accepted her wishes, I was going to lose her when I loved her so much.’

Lynn, who was 31 when she died, fell ill on the day of her BCG vaccination in November, 1991, when she was 14. She was sent home sick from school that day and again the next day and never returned again.

In the first horrifying months, she suffered violent convulsions lasting hours, fainting fits, searing pain in her throat, head and stomach, and cognitive problems.