Andy Casey: Life support for punched man can end - High Court
Doctors can lawfully withdraw life-support treatment from a man who suffered a brain injury during a pub fight, a High Court judge has ruled.
Specialists say his brain-stem function has died and he is therefore dead.
Mr Casey's sister, Christine Casey, told the judge she did not believe he was brain-stem dead and said after the ruling: "I am so angry."
Mr Justice MacDonald said he agreed with a medical assessment, at a private court hearing on Friday.
St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust bosses responsible for Mr Casey's care had asked the judge to rule that treatment could lawfully end by withdrawing ventilation.
Relatives wanted treatment to continue, saying they had seen movement and signs of life.
Barrister Abid Mahmood said brain-stem testing by two specialists had shown that Mr Casey was dead.
"This is a tragic matter whereby the trust seeks a declaration that very sadly Andy's brain-stem function has died and that thereby he has died," Mr Mahmood told the judge.
"The trust seeks an order that it is lawful for the trust to cease artificial ventilation and care that Andy currently receives."
Mr Mahmood told the judge in a written case outline that Mr Casey had been involved in a fight in a pub garden on 9 July and had been "punched to the head" and "fell to the ground".
He said specialists had declared that Mr Casey had died on 16 July.
The judge heard that Mr Casey had remained on a ventilator since being injured.
"Whilst I understand fully the conclusions that the family and friends of Mr Casey have, in their sorrow, drawn from his movements and apparent responses to the ventilator, having regard to the totality of evidence before the court, I am also satisfied that what the family are seeing are in fact well-recognised base reflexes that can survive brain stem death," said Mr Justice MacDonald in a written ruling.
"Cruelly, the flattering voice of hope convinces those that love Mr Casey that these are signs that Mr Casey is not dead.
"With regret, I am satisfied that the brain stem testing undertaken... demonstrate(s) that he is."
He added: "I understand that this will come as a bitter disappointment to Mr Casey's family and friends."
The judge offered his "profound sympathy" to Mr Casey's family.
Ben's making his was up to Leeds today, for his last exam on Thursday. He sent me the BBC article above yesterday. I make no apology for reproducing it in full. Andy Casey, an acquaintance of his, was the boy injured in the Abbey Mills punch-up, (yards from where I sit in my office as I type.