A Sydney couple were released on good behaviour bonds after pleading guilty to manslaughter of their disabled son, Matthew Sutton. Born without eyes, part of his face missing, nervous system and heart defects, and severely intellectually disabled, he was not expected to live beyond a few weeks. However Matthew survived to the age of 28 years old.
According to The West Australian newspaper (5th April, 07) "Even though he had serious medical problems and several operations, he reached a mental age of about four and despite limited hearing, found some joy in music. But life was a trial. He banged his head and became violent when frustrated. The court was told he also suffered at the hands of other patients when his parents, unable to care for him at home, put him into professional care."
Matthew's mother told the court he would have nothing else if he didn't have music. "How could we subject our precious son to what was ahead?" The day before Matthew was to have undergone surgery that may have robbed him of his hearing and sense of taste, his parents sedated and killed him.
According to The Australian Justice Barr said "The Suttons, who suffered from depression and stress, were affected by an "abnormality of mind" at the time of Matthew's death". He is further quoted in The West Australian newspaper that the crime was committed "out of love and labouring under an inability to properly reason".
And there was more... NSW Council on Intellectual Disability executive officer Helena O'Connell declared it "a sad day for people with intellectual disabilities". "The system let the family down, (but) the person had the potential for a valuable life," she said.
I am baffled. In what way was this merciful, selfless and considered action an act of madness and irrationality? And would Ms O'Connell please elaborate on that "potential for a valuable life" she foresaw for Matthew?
Please note: I am not necessarily endorsing "potential for a valuable life" as a prerequisite to let live. In that case I might be the first against the wall.