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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December 13, 2005 - News Department | Email this story


Comments (newest comments at bottom)

wow...well. I have to say that only knowing that story and nothing else, I feel like the kid shouldn't have been suffocated.

A last view of your father is that of him "exstinguishing your life like a candle flame?"

Horrible. If he was so much in pain there are drugs that could have helped.

And if you can't watch someone be disabled, then let them go stay with someone who can help them become more able, and that means coping too.

Posted by: Joy on December 16, 2005 05:46 PM

One can only judge another when they have all the facts before them. The comments on this site come from those who clearly do not know any of the facts.

Posted by: Zuhre Butler on December 21, 2005 03:09 PM

As a person with MS and a disabled son, I feel I have a right to speak to this issue. I think the father is saying he sacrificed himself to save his son only to try to appear like a loving father.
On the other hand there is precious little relief for a parent for the day-to-day stresses of that situation. Some insurance companies will pay for one or two weeks a year of a caretaker's services. Sound good on paper but in reality it is difficult to find someone reputable to care for a mentlaly disabled person. It makes it hard to get away. What is really needed is a daily form of relief. That is rarely provided. Most of the time, relief is all or none.
It believe the father is a person who did not give up his child in time. My son with schizophrenia committed suicide last January. With a suicide rate of almost 60% for males with schizophrenia, I can't say I was shocked but I still hurt deeply and I just can not believe that death is a way out of a difficult situation. The old saying that "God does not give you more than you can handle" is not true. Sometimes people do get more than they can handle. In those cases, it is preferable for the parent to give up care at home. Some people just don't know how to do so. I put my son in a group home and it nearly broke us. Even with his social security, my ex-husband helping and my current husband's large salary, we were nearly wiped out. We had to take him home again in spite of my MS.
There is no easy answer but I don't think this father's lame excuse is the answer.

Posted by: Eileen on December 23, 2005 04:37 AM

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