December 13, 2005

Wragg "Sacrificed Himself" By Killing His Son, Defense Tells Court

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express (subscribe)

EAST SUSSEX, ENGLAND--Andrew Wragg killed his son, Jacob, after he "cracked" from combat-related stress, compounded by the boy's disability, Lewes Crown Court was told in closing arguments last Thursday.

"Yes, Andrew Wragg cracked on that final afternoon and he became transfixed with the compulsion to save his son's suffering the final degradation of his disease and he did it by extinguishing the flame of the candle of his life," defense attorney Michael Sayers QC told the 12-member jury. "Whatever happened, happened out of compassion."

Sayers said the military security specialist decided to suffocate 10-year-old Jacob with a pillow on July 24, 2004 to keep him from suffering from Hunter syndrome. Children who have Hunter syndrome experience mental and physical disabilities and seldom live into their twenties.

"He's prepared to sacrifice himself completely and that's described as selfish?" Sayers said, in an attempt to counter claims by prosecutors that Wragg, 38, murdered Jacob because he could not cope with his son's disability.

During closing arguments, prosecutor Philip Katz QC said the crime was not a case of "mercy killing", which is what Wragg told police from the beginning.

"Mercy killing is, in any event, a highly emotive label and normally applied to a situation where the person who is killed is really at death's door and may have been for quite a long time," said Katz.

"No one would suggest that, however poorly Jacob was, he was in that situation. He wasn't hospitalized, he wasn't receiving oxygen, he wasn't really in that palliative state . . . he was making his own decisions."

"Mercy killing, even when it occurs, even when somebody after a long period of being in terminal care is killed, is still murder. There's no defense of mercy killing in law, its still murder."

Wragg has pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished capacity.

A psychologist that examined Wragg told the court Wednesday that Wragg was experiencing an adjustment disorder after returning from Iraq and had become obsessed with the notion he had "seen something in Jacob's eyes" convincing him that he wanted his father to kill him.

Jacob's death is one of many cases of "altruistic filicide", in which a parent kills a child -- often one with disabilities -- claiming the death is "for the child's own good".

This is Wragg's second trial. His first trial in March deadlocked after 11 days of testimony and 11 hours of deliberation.

"Murder accused 'suffered combat stress'" (The Guardian)

"Father 'sacrificed own life' to save son" (Independent Television News via Channel 4)

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Posted on December 13, 2005