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"Does this look like a murderer?" The photo that shows the end of a 60-year love story.

This post may be triggering to some readers.

This is the final photograph of Mavis and Dennis Eccleston.

The end of a 60-year-old love story.

When the photo was taken, Dennis Eccleston, 81, was declining in health. Supported by his devoted wife, 80-year-old Mavis, Dennis had been diagnosed with incurable, terminal bowel cancer. He had been wracked with pain – and he asked for help to end his own life.

Neither wanted to live without the other or leave this world alone.

Instead, they made a pact. Mavis was determined to sacrifice her own life so that they could pass away together.

At the couple’s home in Huntington, Staffordshire, Mavis wrote a 14-page note before the couple both drank a cocktail of prescription drugs.

Shortly after taking the pills, however, the couple were rushed to hospital after being found unconscious by their daughter and granddaughter.

As Dennis had a ‘do not resuscitate’ order on his record, he died soon after arriving at the hospital.

He passed away while holding hands with his wife in adjoining hospital beds. According to Mavis, Dennis died just after she reminded him of their first kiss in 1958.

Mavis, on the other hand, was saved.

The following day – while still wearing her dressing gown, nightie and slippers – Mavis was arrested. She was then held in a cell for 30 hours.

Mavis’ family claim that she was left in tears in hospital after a nurse allegedly told her: “We have got to wait for the police because you have murdered your husband and you are going to prison for a long, long time.”

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“I was holding onto her and I didn’t want them to take her,” Mavis and Dennis’ daughter, Joy, told BBC Breakfast.

“You could see that [the police] didn’t want to take her but they had to because it was their job.”

In April this year, Mavis was told that she was to be charged with the murder of her husband.

“When you hear that someone’s been murdered, you think of something horrific,” Joy told BBC Breakfast.

“This was my mum and dad we’re talking about.”

After a three week trial in September, Mavis was found not guilty by a jury.

And now, her family are campaigning to change the law on assisted dying.

Posting to Facebook, Joy, one of the couple’s three children, has called for change.

“He wanted to be out of pain – the love of her life for 60 years, she couldn’t stand to see him suffer. She was willing to give the ultimate sacrifice, her own life. Why? Because of the law in this country,” she wrote.

“Loved ones will be made to suffer in pain every day unless we can change the law,” she added.

“Surely as adults, with the correct safeguards, we should have a choice.”

Listen: Andrew Denton discusses euthanasia with Mia Freedman. Post continues after audio.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Joy added that assisted dying would have allowed her family to farewell Dennis properly.

“If he’d have had that choice, imagine we could have said our goodbyes,” she said.

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“He could have kissed up and loved us and he could have gone how he wanted to go. As opposed to that night – being frightened, being scared, both of them being alone. That’s the most upsetting part for me. It’s heartbreaking.”

Speaking to the media following her trial, Mavis shared that she felt “annoyed” when she woke up in hospital.

“I wanted to be with my husband. You wouldn’t let an animal suffer the way Dennis was suffering,” she said.

“I don’t regret what I did and wouldn’t change what happened. I live with a very contended family and I am happy for them – but I would still rather be with Dennis.”

Mavis also added that her husband “more or less begged” for her to end his suffering.

She said she told him: “If that’s the way you are going then I am coming too.”

In 2016, Andrew Denton spoke to Mia Freedman about his desire to change Australian law around euthanasia. Post continues after video.

Video by Mamamia

In Australia in November 2017, Victoria’s state parliament passed legislation that made euthanasia legal.

More than 18 months after it was voted in, the law finally comes into effect on 19 June, meaning Victorians will be able to end their lives via assisted dying – though there are stringent criteria and 68 safeguards.

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos has described the bill as the safest and most conservative set of euthanasia laws in the world.

Victoria is currently the only Australian state where assisted dying is legal.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you’re based in Australia, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue 1300 22 4636.


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