A top neurosurgeon in the United Kingdom who suffocated her own cancer-stricken daughter with a plastic bag received a suspended five-year sentence for the murder of her 14-year-old daughter Eline.
Mehrnaz Didgar, 51, was also ordered to seek psychological help.
The court in Leuven, a city in the Belgian province of Flemish Brabant, believed that there were mitigating circumstances which caused Didgar to kill her daughter.
Judge Peter Hartoch called it “the heaviest and most difficult trial” of his career, but said there were enough reasons to be lenient, including the defendant’s “immaculate criminal record and great sense of culpability”.
The public prosecutor’s office had recommended 26 years in prison while her lawyer Jef Vermassen pleaded for a suspended sentence, saying that “child murder is the only crime committed out of love”.
Eline was hit by thyroid cancer at the age of seven which reportedly put a huge strain on the girl and was even more evident in her teenage years.
Both Eline and her mother were reportedly severely depressed.
Didgar brought home medicine from the University hospital of Leuven where she worked and which she then used to drug Eline.
Hartoch said: “Afterwards she suffocated her with a plastic bag over her mouth and nose for a duration of fifteen minutes.”
Afterwards, Didgar called a friend and told him what she had done. When the man called the police about the murder, Didgar fled in her BMW.
An hour later, her car was spotted on the roadside with a flat tyre and substantial damage to both sides.
Didgar told cops on the scene: “I drove into a bridge. I wanted to die.”
She reportedly confessed to her daughter’s murder under interrogation, something she did again on the first trial day.
Didgar claimed her daughter told her multiple times that she wanted to die.
The doctor told the court: “She said ‘why would we wait for death? I want to die now’. She also said that she never wanted to marry or have children.
“I was empty, lifeless. I took medicine which I often subscribed to patients. I believed that we both had to die, everything was right, all the pieces were falling together.”
According to Eline’s father Steven Pans, his daughter was beginning to cope with cancer better as she grew older.
He also claimed that Eline never showed any signs of wanting to die, even when she was most in pain.
Eline’s grandfather Johnny Pan said: “Everything was fed to her by Didgar.”
After sentencing, Didgar said in court: “I never thought I would get a second chance. I will grab it with both hands.
“If I could turn back time, this would never have happened. From the beginning, I hated being seen as a murderer. I can feel Steven’s pain. I know what this means to him.”