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'He wasn't prepared for a second-class life': why injured rugby star went to Switzerland to die

The Guardian

A 23-year-old who played rugby for England as a teenager has committed suicide in a Swiss euthanasia clinic after having become paralysed from the chest down in a training accident. Police are investigating.

Nuneaton rugby club hooker Daniel James felt his body had become a "prison" and lived in "fear and loathing" of his daily life, his parents said last night, having accompanied him to Switzerland from their home in Sinton Green, near Worcester. He had attempted to kill himself several times since March 2007 when a scrum had collapsed on him and dislocated his neck vertebrae, trapping his spinal cord and rendering him immediately tetraplegic.

West Mercia Police have begun an investigation into his assisted suicide, which took place on September 12. Details were made public yesterday when police published a statement relating to an inquest in progress. Assisted suicide is illegal in the UK, and family or friends who help face up to 14 years in jail. Officers have questioned a man and a women in the case and are preparing to submit a report to the Crown Prosecution Service.

James' parents, Mark and Julie, said last night that their son had been "an intelligent young man of sound mind" and "not prepared to live what he felt was a second-class existence".

He is one of the youngest Britons to have travelled abroad for assisted suicide. Earlier this month, Dignitas, the centre for assisted dying in Zurich, said that 100 Britons have travelled to Switzerland to make use of its more liberal laws. It is thought James attended a clinic in Berne.

James was a talented player who seemed destined for a professional career. He played for England at under-16 level and went on to play for Loughborough University, where he was an engineering undergraduate. The training accident happened four days after he helped England Students beat a France side in Oxford.

In a training session for forwards, he was practising a scrum when the pack came crashing down. Under their weight, he dislocated bones in his neck and trapped the spinal cord.

In the following weeks he had several operations and spent eight months in rehabilitation, including a stay at Stoke Mandeville hospital, before returning home; he only ever regained a small amount of use in his fingers. Early last month he travelled to Switzerland. His funeral took place in the UK on October 1.

"His death was an extremely sad loss for his family, friends and all those that cared for him, but no doubt a welcome relief from the prison he felt his body had become and the day to day fear and loathing of his living existence," the James family solicitors said last night. "This is the last way that the family wanted Dan's life to end, but he was, as those who know him are aware, an intelligent, strong-willed, and some say determined young man."

Yesterday the Spinal Injuries Association expressed shock. "When someone has an injury like this, you think its the end of the world as life is going to change for ever," said Daniel Burden, head of public affairs. "But our mantra is that life need not end if you are paralysed. We know of people with similar or worse injuries than Dan who have lived fulfilling lives."

The case comes as Debbie Purdy, 45, who has primary progressive multiple sclerosis, awaits a high court judgement seeking clarification of the legal status of family and friends who accompany people who commit assisted suicide.

Her action is being supported by Dignity in Dying, which campaigns for a law change to allow terminally ill and mentally competent patients to choose assisted death in the UK. James, who was not terminally ill, would not have been eligible under any such alteration of the law.

Prior to his death, James's uncle, Mark Roebuck, who started The Dan James Trust which raised nearly £25,000 for spinal research, paid tribute to his nephew.

"On Monday March 12 2007 Dan was just like thousands of 23-year-olds, full of life, hope, excitement and dreams. Whatever he chose to do, he would have done it with the good humour and lovely nature that made him a lovable young man."

The message boards on Nuneaton rugby club's website carried tributes yesterday. "This is really sad and tragic news, and it makes all the silly arguments with the rugby and football club very trivial and unimportant," said Nutty Nun. "My thoughts, sympathy and prayers are with Dan's family. RIP Dan."

Forbidden by law

Although suicide is no longer a crime in England and Wales, it is still an offence under the Suicide Act 1961 to "aid, counsel or procure the suicide of another"; the penalty is up to 14 years' imprisonment, and there have been 12 prosecutions since 2005.

The only jurisdictions where assisted suicide is not illegal are Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the state of Oregon in the US.

Although Swiss law does not specifically permit assisted suicide or provide any details about how it can be done legally, it does not prohibit it either. Several clinics have been established, providing facilities for terminally ill people to commit suicide, including Dignitas in Berne, the only clinic which offers its services to people not living in Switzerland. Since it opened in 1998 it has helped 868 people to end their lives, 100 of them from the UK.

Dignitas's motto is "to live with dignity - to die with dignity". It offers a service to the terminally ill and their families including accommodation, access to doctors and a dose of a drug causing a deep coma and painless death. However, anyone who accompanies a relative to Dignitas risks prosecution on their return for assisting suicide contrary to English law.


95 percent of the victims of violence are men. Because women feel flattered when men fight each other and kill each other to prove that they are real men.


Child sexuality: Recent developments and implications for treatment, prevention, and social policy


Although the research on the effects of childhood incest experiences and sexual encounters with adults is still limited, some consistent trends emerge across studies. Such sexual experiences may be traumatic, inconsequential, or possibly even positive. There does not appear to be any basis established by research for regarding the determinants of the effects of childhood sexual experiences as fundamentally different from the factors operating in adult sexual experiences. The perception of the child of being a willing or unwilling participant is the aspect of such experiences with the single greatest explanatory power in accounting for differences in the child's evaluation of the experience and in the long term effects. From the research, rational policies can be derived for the areas of treatment, prevention, and law. The proposals presented follow logically from what is now understood about the effects of sexual experiences on children. Those who see the purpose of law and social institutions as being the enforcement of a particular morality or the protection of children from all sexual experience will sympathize with neither the approach nor its conclusions. But there are those who would have the law support the right of sexual self-expression and development of everyone's fullest potential as a person, protecting these from violation and intrusion by society as well as by other members of society.

Child sexuality: Recent developments and implications for treatment, prevention, and social policy. Available from: [accessed Jun 30, 2017].


Child rapist who killed girl, 10, and her grandparents dies by jumping over court balcony

AN ‘EVIL’ man accused of raping and murdering a 10-year-old girl and brutally killing her grandparents jumped to his death to avoid tri

Robert Seman Junior was due to face court for the murders of Corinne Gump, 10, and William and Judith Schmidt.

The family were killed in their home in Youngstown, Ohio, in March 2015 just hours before the 48-year-old was due to stand trial for raping the youngster.

Seman Jnr was accused of starting the fires deliberately to avoid the child, after he was found covered in burn injuries - with two gas canisters discovered in his home.

But despite overwhelming evidence against him, the accused paedophile pleaded not guilty and was due to stand trial on Wednesday.

But following his final court hearing, a CCTV camera captured the moment as he leapt to his death.

The shocking footage shows Seman Jnr walking through an empty courthouse corridor accompanied by two burly security officials.

As they walk along, the killer took his chance and threw himself over the fourth-floor balcony wall.

Courthouse staff rushed to his side, where a lawyer felt for a pulse but paramedics soon declared Seman Jnr dead at the scene.

One official said: “That was an evil, evil, man.”

Dawn Cantalamess the lead prosecutor later added: "I think it’s very telling.

"He knew the evidence against him.

"Every witness we talked to in preparation for the case, they didn’t know why he wasn’t pleading guilty or asking for some sort of plea, so this is very telling."


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