Terminally ill man bought drug and suicide manual online before killing himself
A HEART-BROKEN wife has described the moment she left the room while her "courageous, strong-willed and determined" terminally-ill husband of nearly 40 years took his own life.
Father-of-two Thomas Anthony Hobkinson had motor neurone disease and bought drugs over the internet from Mexico to kill himself at home, an inquest heard.
The 71-year-old retired auditor had watched a television programme about euthanasia by novelist Sir Terry Pratchett, who has Alzheimer's, and bought a handbook over the internet on how to commit suicide.
Diagnosed in 2009, as the disease worsened Mr Hobkinson informed family, friends, doctors and carers of his intention to end his life, the inquest heard.
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By the time he died, he was in a wheelchair and was having trouble swallowing and breathing – and, according to doctors, was approaching the end-stages of the disease.
Yesterday his widow Anne, who now lives in the Stoke area of Plymouth, told the hearing at Truro she knew her husband had kept a veterinary drug from Mexico in the Falmouth flat they lived in at the time for several weeks before he died.
The couple had two sons, 38-year-old Ashley and 28-year-old Ben, who had got married in August last year.
Mrs Hobkinson, 64, who used to work in administration said on the night of September 29 last year her husband told her he was ready to die.
"Tom said he was going to do it," she told the inquest. "He was watching a DVD of our son Ben's wedding.
"He told me to go to bed and to take one of his sleeping pills.
"We said our goodbyes. As I left the room he told me not to forget the heating instructions for the flat were in the bottom drawer – that was typical of him."
She said she left her husband sitting in his wheelchair next to the living room table at around 10.45pm.
At around 3am she woke up and found him dead with an almost empty bottle of the drug, the remnants of a drink of whiskey in a glass and a suicide note.
The note was typed, signed and dated, and read: "I have committed euthanasia by my own hand and without any assistance."
He went on to say if he was found alive he did not want to be resuscitated.
A post-mortem examination later revealed he died from an overdose of the drug and had 14mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in his system.
Mrs Hobkinson added: "I was hoping it wasn't going to work. But on the other hand it was what he wanted."
Detective Constable David Palmer told the inquest how examination of Mr Hobkinson's laptop showed emails between himself and a contact in Mexico for the drug. When Coroner Dr Emma Carlyon asked if there had been any third party involvement, assistance or pressure exerted on Mr Hobkinson to kill himself, the officer replied: "Absolutely none whatsoever."
Dr Carlyon recorded a verdict that Mr Hobkinson had killed himself.
Speaking after the inquest Mrs Hobkinson said: "Tom loved life and even though the disease was getting worse and worse he was happy right up until the end. He loved sailing and when his condition deteriorated we got rid of the sailing boat and bought a motor boat he could get onboard in his scooter.
"Tom was a wonderful, courageous, strong-willed, determined man. A fantastic husband and father. We all love him very much and miss him."