Catholic at centre of life-support dispute has died, lawyers say

A Catholic man who was at the centre of a life-support treatment dispute has died, lawyers say.

The middle-aged man, who came from Poland but lived in the West Country, fell into a coma late last year after suffering brain damage.

Specialists said his condition would never significantly improve and thought treatment should end.

The man’s wife agreed and said he would not want have wanted to be a burden.

His mother, sisters and a niece disagreed.

They said that, because of his Catholic beliefs, the man would not have wanted his life to be terminated if it could be preserved.

A judge based in London ruled in mid-December that ending life-support treatment was in the man’s best interests.

Mr Justice Cohen analysed the case at hearings in the Court of Protection, where issues relating to people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions are considered, and heard evidence from independent specialists.

He said the man could not be identified in media reports of the case.

Bosses at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust have responsibility for the man’s care and had asked Mr Justice Cohen to rule that ending life-support treatment would be lawful.

Lawyers involved in the case said the man died on Tuesday.

The man’s niece failed to persuade Court of Appeal judges to overturn Mr Justice Cohen’s ruling and failed to persuade judges at the European Court of Human Rights to intervene.

Polish government officials had offered to fly the man to Poland for treatment.

They also failed to persuade European Court judges to intervene.

Mr Justice Cohen, who also hears cases in the Family Division of the High Court, said he appreciated the Polish government offer.

But the judge said treatment could have been provided in England, if he had decided that treatment was in the man’s best interests.

The judge also said the man could not be flown to Poland against his wife’s wishes.

A solicitor representing the man’s wife said she wanted to have time to grieve in peace.

“We know that many people want to speak to her,” said Laura Hobey-Hamsher, who works for law firm Bindmans.

“But she’d greatly appreciate it if people did not contact her at this time.

“She needs some peace and time to grieve.

“If anyone has a message, they can contact me.”