“You are someone who acted out of love and desperation.” Is it thinkable that a son could hurl his aging mother off a fire-escape then be praised in court for “mercy killing”?
That is exactly what happened recently in the court case of Robert Knight, a 53 year old teacher in the United Kingdom who threw his 79 year old mother off a first-floor fire escape at her care facility on December 10th of last year. Knight’s mother, June Knight, was receiving end-of-life care and suffered from Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
At the time of her death, Mrs. Knight suffered from a twisted bowel and a winter virus. A “do not resuscitate” order had been in place and Mr. Knight was convinced his mother would not survive the night on December 9th. When Providence overruled those plans, Mr. Knight checked himself into June Knight’s facility, lifted his mother out of bed, carried her out a fire door, then threw her from a fire escape. After plummeting 13 feet, June Knight underwent “catastrophic” brain trauma and died at the scene.
Knight later told police his mother was conscious and looking at him when he threw her. Mrs. Knight was alive when her head hit the ground. After throwing his mother, Knight re-entered the building and reported to staff, “I have killed her, my mother, I threw her off there,” pointing to the fire door.
He “Lost Control”
In his court trial, Robert Knight pleaded guilty to manslaughter but denied a murder charge. He said, rather he “lost control” on the day he killed his mother as he “could not bear to see her suffer.”
As the horrible incident was recorded on CCTV, the jury was actually shown footage of Mr. Knight positioning his mother on the railing before pushing her off. Knight told police he wanted his mother to hit the pavement with a “big crack” that would knock her unconscious and was thus positioning her body to fall head first to the pavement below.
The jury heard that Mr. Knight told police he actually intended to throw his mother from the second story but was unable. He said he “did not have it in him” to suffocate his mother with a pillow.
The jury’s ruling? Mr. Knight suffered from a temporary “loss of control”.He was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended by two years.
Taking this benign response a step further, Knight’s judge, Samantha Leigh, expressed condolence and praise for Robert Knight, saying:
“You have been punished enough and will have to live with what you have done.”
Leigh further stated,“You were convinced that she was suffering and it was more than you could bear…you were described as a devoted, loving son. This case, I’m sure, was a very balanced one as to whether it was in the interest to prosecute in the first place.”
Judge Leigh added, “This is a very sad case-anyone listening to the details of Mrs. Knight’s illness and her condition couldn’t fail to be moved.” Leigh described Knight’s actions as “mercy killing” motivated by “love and desperation.”
While praising and acquitting Mr. Knight, Leigh was less than affirming of pro-life convictions: “To watch someone you love suffer as she was suffering…is truly cruel.”
SPUC (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children), a leading pro-life organization in the UK, expressed concern that Leigh’s verdict reflects a cultural shift: Will killing those with dementia be increasingly viewed as a noble display of compassion?
This ruling signals a win for euthanasia laws commonplace in other European countries. How long until such callous sentiments toward the aged – and such indifference to cold-blooded treachery – becomes the norm?
“There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers. There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth. There are those – oh how lofty are their eyes, how their eyelids lift! There are those whose teeth are swords, whose fangs are knives, to devour the poor from the earth, the needy from among mankind (Proverbs 30:11-14).”