Father cleared of murdering ill son
A British man who admitted smothering his terminally ill 10-year-old son was found not guilty of murder today, prompting an angry response from the boy's mother who condemned the verdict.
Andrew Wragg, 37, had said he was not of sound mind when he killed his son Jacob, who suffered from the rare inherited condition Hunter's Syndrome.
The former special forces soldier was given a two year suspended sentence after he admitted a lesser charge of manslaughter at Lewes Crown Court.
After killing Jacob in July 2004, Wragg dialled emergency services to say he had carried out a "mercy killing" but prosecutors argued he had simply been overwhelmed by the responsibility of looking after his son.
Wragg's former wife Mary, who was the primary carer for the boy, said she was appalled by the sentence.
"Jacob was a happy, loving child living in a sometimes difficult body. He never lost his sense of fun and those who understood him really loved Jacob for being Jacob," she told reporters outside the court.
"It has been extremely difficult to sit and listen as the dignity of my little boy has been destroyed in an effort to reduce the impact of his death.
"Jacob's condition has been used as an excuse for this crime and I find it appalling that anyone would try and portray him as being less deserving of his life or less entitled to enjoy every precious moment his condition allowed."
She said the case had raised many issues for other families caring for terminally ill children.
"I am shocked by the sentence and the message it sends to others," she said.
During the trial, jurors heard that Wragg smothered Jacob after Mary left the boy alone in the family house in Worthing, on the south coast.
Wragg had stood trial for murder earlier in 2005 but the case collapsed in March after the jury failed to reach a verdict.