April 11, 2010

UK: Row as rich widow kills herself and leaves one son millions

. LONDON, England / The Daily Express / April 11, 2010 By James Murray DETECTIVES are investigating the death of a wealthy British widow at a Swiss suicide clinic amid confusion over a key legal document. Kathleen Dobson was not terminally ill but suffering from rheumatoid arthritis when she decided to end her life at the Dignitas clinic in Zurich. A friend said that although the 74-year-old multi-millionairess had been in some pain, she was able to drive, enjoyed playing bridge and had a satisfying social life on Guernsey. Police probe Dignitas death of 'healthy' millionairess In April 2008 she fi lled out a Dignitas form which required that photo- copies of her instructions must be sent to her three sons, Richard Carlton, Graham Carlton and Robert Carlton. Although she made Richard and Graham aware of her intentions and they accompanied her to Switzerland, Robert was not sent the photocopies and believed she was living a normal life. In June that year Mrs Dobson changed her will, leaving her home, a bungalow worth £815,000, to Richard and £100,000 to his partner Nicola. They live in the property, The Meadows, near Guernsey’s capital St Peter Port. Robert Carlton, who lives in Dorset, says he was not told of his mother’s decision to change her will and was surprised because as far as he knew she had already left another property on the island, worth £1.7million, to Richard. Robert told the Sunday Express: “The document which carries my name and says I have a photocopy of my mother’s instructions to take her life, is fraudulent. I was kept in the dark over her visit to Dignitas and was never sent any documents by them or anyone else. “If I had been aware of what was going on I would have flown to Guernsey and put a stop to it. “She was not terminally ill and the last time I spoke to her – on Sunday August 31, 2008 – she sounded in good spirits. “She gave no inkling to me she was about to take her life and did not mention that my name was being used to validate the documents for Dignitas. “In my view Dignitas have behaved appallingly and their actions and the actions of others needs to be fully investigated.” The Sunday Express understands Guernsey Police will ask Robert to produce all relevant documents for detectives. He says he was only given the Dignitas documents after his mother died. One document he will show police is from his mother’s medical records, dated March 11 2008. This shows she underwent an MRI scan of the lumbar spine which confirmed canal stenosis. But there is nothing in the document to suggest her pain was so bad that her life had become ­unbearable. Although Mrs Dobson had signed a Dignitas document saying all her sons should have photocopies of her instructions she was, according to Graham Carlton, keeping Robert out of the loop. In an e-mail sent to a detective in Guernsey in ­November 2008 from his home in Florida, Graham says he informed his mother that what she was proposing was illegal and was asking him “to be party to an illegal act”. During the summer of 2008 he could see his mother was in pain but he adds: “My mother was a strong-willed woman. When she took a course of action she always followed it through. This was the way she lived her life. I think she was depressed and frightened but would never admit that.” Although he says he tried to persuade her to tell Robert what was being planned, she was adamant that he should not know. He says she had two appointments with a Dignitas doctor in September 2008. “I was present for the first, on September 2, where the doctor stated that her reasons for assisted suicide were insufficient and that she had to elaborate in writing before her Thursday appointment (September 4) for him to prescribe sodium pentobarbital [a euthanasia drug]. “He also asked if all three sons where [his spelling] in support of her decision to which she replied ‘yes’ in complete contradiction to the truth.” The following day she was given a clear liquid to drink with Graham, Richard, Nicola and Dignitas representatives present. She was filmed on video briefly confirming she wanted to end her life and had earlier penned a legible, handwritten note saying her quality of life had reduced to zero. “I exist between a chair and the bed,” she wrote, “afraid to go outside, move around, garden.” Robert said he used to call his mother several times a week during which, he says, she gave no hint of being in serious pain. He says if he had been aware of her intentions he would have urged her to see a doctor for depression and examined the possibility of putting her in a nursing home. “She was a very rich woman and she could easily have afforded more care for herself if that was what was required,” said Robert. “She had aches and pains like many elderly women but she was still enjoying life.” Before moving to her bungalow, Mrs Dobson lived in a large granite house called La Tourelle, one of the island’s most imposing properties because of its circular tower. A friend and neighbour who knew her for more than 10 years declined to be named but told the Sunday Express: “I had no idea she was going to Zurich. “The first I knew she had died was when Nicola called me. There was never a funeral or service for her over here. I only discovered she died in Zurich when Robert put an in-memoriam message in the local paper a year later. This is very sad and upsetting and mysterious.” Twice-married Mrs Dobson also had a stepdaughter, Anne Darnell, who lives near Cullompton, Devon. Mrs Darnell said: “I had no idea she was intending to take her life. As far as I was aware she was still enjoying life.” As well as the bungalow, Richard also received £697,040 from his mother’s will. Robert and Graham were left the same amount and Mrs Darnell was left £269,088.02. She said: “Kathleen’s wealth came from my late father Harry, her second husband, who had inherited millions from his father who was in the aviation industry. “I was not consulted about the change of will but I am angry I was not kept informed about her plans to go to Switzerland.” A letter from Dignitas founder Ludwig Minelli to Mrs Dobson dated April 15, 2008 shows they had sent her copies of her instructions so she could pass them to the people named in them. Mrs Darnell was not named but Robert was and insists the ­photocopy was not sent to him. Kathleen Dobson was born in Halifax, West Yorkshire, in 1934 and married second husband Harry Dobson in the Seventies. In 1986 they moved into La Tourelle and in 2006 Kathleen bought The Meadows for £815,000. She had talked of leaving La Tourelle, which was sold for £1,710,000 in 2007, to Richard, the only son who was still living on Guernsey. Robert said: “Graham told me he believed that the proceeds from the sale of La Tourelle went to Richard. However, we have not been able to see the earlier will so I am not sure. “We do know that mum left The Meadows to Richard in her last will.” In 2006 Richard bought a house in St Saviour for £266,000 and sold it after turning it into flats. Neither Richard nor Nicola would speak to the Sunday Express and no one was available for comment at Dignitas yesterday. A spokesman for Guernsey Police said: “We will be following up any further lines of inquiry we feel necessary and appropriate.” [rc] Copyright ©2006 Northern and Shell Media Publications