I helped my motor neurone disease-stricken husband travel to Dignitas – it’s what he wanted

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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A woman who helped her husband travel to Dignitas claimed the UK’s laws left them feeling like they were ‘like thieves’ escaping by night.

Ilana Richardson, 78, booked flights to Switzerland for her husband Crispin Ellison, 69, following a prolonged battle with motor neurone disease.

Mrs Richardson, from Hove, said her husband had resolved to ‘maintain his dignity in death’ but was reliant on her for support planning the journey.

She risked nervous breakdown from the threat of prosecution for assisting in Mr Ellison’s death.

Mr Ellison, who worked in charity fundraising, was diagnosed with MND in 2015.

He travelled to Switzerland in 2019, although would have put off his decision to spend more time with his family if UK laws allowed assisted dying.

Ilana Richardson, 78, booked flights to Switzerland for her husband Crispin Ellison, 69, following a prolonged battle with motor neurone disease

Mrs Richardson, from Hove, said her husband had resolved to ¿maintain his dignity in death¿ but was reliant on her for support planning the journey

Mrs Richardson, from Hove, said her husband had resolved to ‘maintain his dignity in death’ but was reliant on her for support planning the journey

She said she risked a nervous breakdown from the threat of prosecution for assisting in Mr Ellison¿s death

She said she risked a nervous breakdown from the threat of prosecution for assisting in Mr Ellison’s death

Mrs Richardson said: ‘Crispin was a very dignified man and wanted to maintain his dignity in death.

‘We knew that the police could possibly start an investigation and stop the journey, so very few people knew about our plans.

‘I was very stressed and got anxiety attacks – I couldn’t eat and thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown.

‘It was what Crispin wanted but he could not do it. It gave me a far larger responsibility than I would have liked.’

Mrs Richardson said they were in a position where they could afford to travel to Switzerland but said the law meant those who could not afford to travel were denied a choice.

She added: ‘If Crispin could have died in the UK he would have waited until the last moment.

‘Everything is expensive in this journey, but if it were here it would be so different.

‘We felt like thieves running away in the night, the law does not give people the freedom to do what they want with their lives and death.

‘It makes me angry that we had to go through what we did and there are so many people who could not afford it or are alone.

‘It should be a matter of getting in touch with doctors here and being compassionate – people do it because they are suffering not because they want to die.’

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