'Mercy killing' father's trial collapses

Last updated at 08:52 18 March 2005

The jury in the trial of a father who denied murdering his terminally ill son was discharged today after failing to reach a verdict.

Former SAS soldier Andrew Wragg, 37, was charged with murder after smothering 10-year-old Jacob at the family home in Worthing, West Sussex, on July 24 last year.

Today at Lewes Crown Court Mrs Justice Rafferty discharged the jury of nine women and three men after they had been deliberating for 11 and a half hours.

The judge thanked the jury for their consideration and attention during the 11-day trial.

The Crown Prosecution Service was given time to decide on its course of action. The defendant was released on conditional bail.

Jacob was suffering with a severe form of the degenerative disease Hunter Syndrome when he died.

As a result of the condition, the youngster was deaf, dumb and only able to walk on tip-toes. He was not expected to live past his early teens.

Wragg remains charged with murder. After discharging the jury, the judge said: "The unwavering attention and concentration you have given has been considerable. It is very important that you leave with the thanks of the court."

Wragg had admitted suffocating his son in what he claimed was a mercy killing, but he denied it was murder.

The judge, Mrs Justice Rafferty, told Philip Katz QC, prosecuting, that the CPS had seven days to consider its position.

She said: "I'm going to give the crown a little while to stand back and draw breath. They have options at the moment."

A CPS spokesman said it was considering its position.

He said: "We are not in a position to comment further at present due to the sensitivity of the case. As soon as we know anything we will make a statement."

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