Son watched dad, 94, take mix of morphine and pills after years of suffering

A son has told how he and his mother watched as his 94-year-old father, who had endured years of excruciating back pain, killed himself.

Ralph Snell took a mix of morphine and sleeping pills and, at the inquest, his son Richard Snell, 68, said: “I opened the bottle of morphine for him as he was not strong enough.”

Retired legal shorthand writer Ralph died in his chair at home in Lymington, Hants, on January 28.

His wife Molly, 89, and Richard were arrested on suspicion of assisting a suicide, but were released without charge.

Assisted dying campaigners said the case was a “terrible example” of how the “archaic” ban on assisted dying needs reviewing.

At the inquest in Winchester, Richard said he and Molly had sat with Ralph “as moral support”.

Ralph had osteoporosis on his spine and insomnia due to back pain. He had previously tried to electrocute himself with a phone charger.

Richard said on January 27 his dad once again told him he wanted to end his life.

Richard said: “We went to his GP. As expected, he said he could not assist him with his suicide because it is highly unethical and illegal.

However, he did prescribe OraMorph to ease the pain, and Zopiclone to help with his sleeping.” The next day, Ralph said he wanted to “initiate the suicide process”.

Richard said: “He was very quiet while he was doing it.

“Earlier that afternoon, I had bought him some chocolate cake and whisky to have with the tablets, as a bit of a treat.”

He died at 8pm and when a doctor arrived the police were called.

Det Con Kayleigh Rush said Richard and Molly were released as they had not ­initiated the suicide.

Recording a verdict of suicide, coroner Grahame Short told Richard: “Ralph put both you and Molly in an extremely difficult decision.”

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