St John’s Wood man bled to death after cutting off his legs
A St John’s Wood paraplegic who bled to death after trying to cut off his legs with a hacksaw thought the procedure would “improve his quality of life”, a court heard.
Barrie Hepburn, 65, was found dead in a pool of blood in his Lorne Close home last August after calling 999 to alert them he had “severed his legs” and was “bleeding to death”.
The retired property consultant, married for 25 years to Harley Street celebrity hypnotherapist Susan Hepburn, had lost the use of his legs after being shot three times by an angry neighbour while at their French holiday home in 2000.
He had tried to convince doctors to surgically remove his “useless” and “heavy” legs and surfed the internet for information on how to carry out the procedure himself.
On August 29 Mr Hepburn alerted emergency services to his self-amputation but paramedics arrived to find him dead in his wheelchair in the kitchen with a hacksaw embedded in his right leg.
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He had packed a bag with a newspaper, magazine and some fruit and cakes which he thought would last him the first few days in hospital after the ambulance took him there.
Last week Westminster Coroner’s Court heard his desire to undergo an amputation was fuelled by his inability to get into his new Jaguar car unaided.
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Psychiatrist Dr Leena Reddy said Mr Hepburn’s wish was an “understandable request” with his once “very muscular” legs reduced to being “quite wasted and thin”.
At a consultation with Mr Hepburn, he told her: “Do you think this is self harm? This isn’t – it’s just getting rid of things that are useless.”
He added: “I’m not depressed, I enjoy life.”
Coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe said it was a “bizarre” and “tragic” set of circumstances that had led to Mr Hepburn’s death.
“It’s quite clear that Mr Hepburn had no intention of taking his own life,” she said.
“This was simply a sensible and practical way of dealing with a problem he had as a previously fit, active, independent and healthy man.”
She recorded a cause of death as blood loss due to misadventure.
In a statement, Mr Hepburn’s family said: “Barrie was an incredibly loving husband and father and his death has devastated our close knit family. Our loss is immeasurable.”