Son cleared of assisted suicide charge

A GRIEVING son has spoken of his relief after learning he would not face charges for being with his mother when she killed herself in a Swiss suicide clinic.

By Annie Davidson

A GRIEVING son has spoken of his relief after learning he would not face charges for being with his mother when she killed herself in a Swiss suicide clinic.

Stefan Sliwinski, 34, had been arrested for aiding and abetting a suicide following the death of his mother, Valere, in April.

Mrs Sliwinski, who suffered from cancer and multiple sclerosis, swallowed a barbiturate drink and died with her son at her side at a clinic in Zurich run by euthanasia group Dignitas.

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Mr Sliwinski said he respected his mother's wish and did not want her to die alone so offered to go with her on her final journey.

His mother lived with him, his wife Nicola, and their three daughters - Carla, 12, Keighann, nine and seven-year-old Amy - in Stanley Road, Clacton.

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Mr Sliwinski, his mother, and his best friend Sasch Mayer took the ferry from Harwich to the Hook of Holland and drove through Germany to Switzerland in April this year.

A former auxiliary nurse, Mrs Sliwinski, 58, was assessed alone by two doctors before being given the prescription for the fatal drugs.

The suicide was carried out at a flat also owned by Dignitas and was overseen by one of the group's volunteers.

Mr Sliwinski wept as he described how he, his mother and Mr Mayer sat and reminisced together.

“We all sat there just chatting and chatting and talking about anything and everything, old times, sad times and happy times,” he said.

“At about 4pm she said 'I am ready.' I said, mum are you sure you want to do this? I love you mum.

“She said, 'I love you son and give my love to the girls'.”

Mr Sliwinski added: “She picked it (the barbiturate) up and necked it back like a tequila slammer in one go.”

Shortly afterwards, Mrs Sliwinski said she felt tired and asked to lie down.

“She drifted off to sleep and died 23 minutes after taking it,” said Mr Sliwinski. “Whenever I am blubbering and feeling sorry for myself I remember that was what she wanted and she is at peace now.”

When he came home and informed family members of her death, one of them reported Mr Sliwinski to the police.

He was initially arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, later downgraded to aiding and abetting a suicide, but was informed in a letter last week that he will not face any charges.

Mr Sliwinski said: “A small part of me can understand how they (the relative) feels but I think she needed to get her facts right before accusing me of such a heartless crime.

“I am no murderer. I just respected my mother's wishes. I did not want my mum to do it but she was going to do it anyway.

“If it was legalised in this country perhaps we could have a couple more months with her rather than having to go while she still could.”

A spokeswoman for Dignity in Dying, which campaigns for terminally ill people to be allowed a medically assisted death, said: “Dignity in Dying welcomes the news that the case against Stefan Sliwinski has been dropped, but this does not solve the wider problem of lack of choice for terminally ill people in Britain.”

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