Mum who admitted ending her terminally ill son's life more than 40 years ago has died

Antonya Cooper said she gave her son, Hamish, a large dose of morphine that she believes did 'quietly end his life'. Credit: PA/Handout

A mother who admitted ending her terminally ill son's life more than 40 years ago, has died.

Antonya Cooper, from Oxfordshire, said she gave her seven-year-old son Hamish a large dose of morphine she believes "did quietly end his life" in 1981.

Ms Cooper made the admission whilst on BBC Radio Oxford last week in a bid to change the law on assisted dying.

Hamish was five years old when he was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma - a rare form of cancer that affects children. She said he was in a lot of pain towards the end of his life.

On Monday, the BBC reported a statement from her family, saying Ms Cooper, who had incurable breast, pancreatic and liver cancer, had died.

The statement said: “She was peaceful, pain free, at home and surrounded by her loving family.

“It was exactly the way she wanted it. She lived life on her terms and she died on her terms.”

They also reported the family had been visited by officers from Thames Valley Police following the report last week about Hamish’s death.

The force previously said it was “aware of reports relating to an apparent case of assisted dying of a seven-year-old boy in 1981”.

They added: “At this early stage, the force is making inquiries into these reports and is not in a position to comment further while these investigations continue.”

Antonya Cooper said that she gave her son, Hamish, a large dose of morphine that she believes "did quietly end his life." Credit: PA/Handout

Police have been contacted in light of Ms Cooper’s death.

Speaking about her final moments with her son, Ms Cooper said in May: "In the middle of the night, we were by his bedside.

"He was expressing that he had pain and I said, ‘Would you like me to take the pain away?’

"He said, ‘Yes please, Mama’, and so I gave him a dose of morphine sulphate through his Hickman catheter.

"We had watched him brave through all that beastly treatment, we had had him for longer than the original prognosis, so the time was right."

Euthanasia is the deliberate ending a person's life to relieve suffering. It is illegal in England and could be prosecuted as murder or manslaughter. Assisted dying, frequently known as assisted suicide, is also illegal under English law.

Ms Cooper was asked by the BBC if she understood she had potentially admitted to manslaughter or murder in relation to her son’s death. She replied: “Yes.”

She went on to say: "It was the right thing to do. My son was facing the most horrendous suffering and intense pain, I was not going to allow him to go through that."

She added: “If they come 43 years after I have allowed Hamish to die peacefully, then I would have to face the consequences. But they would have to be quick, because I’m dying too.”

The conversation around assisted dying and calls for a change in the law have become more prominent in recent months, with legislation being considered in Scotland, the Isle of Man and Jersey.

Public support for assisted dying has also increased. Earlier this year, a poll by Dignity in Dying found 75% of people said they supported making it legal for a person to seek assisted dying in the UK. Just 14% opposed.

Last year the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, said he would support assisted dying if a bill was brought to the UK parliament.

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