14 Aug 2009

Judge rules Australian quadriplegic has right to die

9:09 pm on 14 August 2009

An Australian court has ruled that a quadriplegic man who wants to die can tell his carers to stop feeding him.

The judge in the western city of Perth said the nursing home would not be held criminally responsible, the BBC reports.

In a statement, Christian Rossiter, a former stockbroker and outdoor adventurer,

said he could not perform any basic human functions and wanted to die.

Mr Rossiter is severely paralysed after separate accidents in which he fell from a building and was hit by a car while riding his bicycle.

The ruling sets a legal precedent in Australia, where assisting someone to take their own life can be punishable by life in prison.

Western Australia's highest judge, Wayne Martin, said the Brightwater Care Group would not be criminally responsible if it stopped feeding and hydrating Mr Rossiter.

Judge Martin said Mr Rossiter was not terminally ill or dying and was capable of making an informed decision about his treatment.

Mr Rossiter made a public plea last week to be allowed to end his life which he described as a "living hell".

"I have no fear of death - just pain. I only fear pain," he said.