This was the conclusion of the court in the recent case of R (on the application of Donald Lewis Jenkins) (claimant) v HM Coroner for Portsmouth & South East Hampshire (defendant) & (1) Cherie Elizabeth Cameron (2) Elizabeth Finn (interested parties) (2009) which can be accessed here.

A father’s application for the judicial review of a coroner’s decision, that his son had not been unlawfully killed by his partner, was refused.

The Administrative Court decided that the coroner was justified in reaching the verdict that the overwhelming cause of death of the deceased, who died after his lower leg and foot became gangrenous, was his own refusal to seek medical treatment for his foot injury.

The coroner had decided that the deceased's partner had not been under a duty to act against those wishes where the deceased had been capable of making his will known. It had also been decided that, any failure to summon medical help in the last two hours before death would not have made any significant contribution to his death.

This case supports patient autonomy and the principles set out in the Mental Capacity Act 2005.