What Happened To Freeda Hayes?

“Supreme Journalistic Integrity. Voluntary euthanasia is always a contentious issue. This makes Bowles’ reporting even more laudable. Starting with Freeda’s tragic diagnosis, she takes us through her final weeks.”


Publisher : The Five Mile Press (January 1, 2007)
Paperback: 352 Pages
ISBN-10 : 1741787270
ISBN-13 : 978-1741787276


reeda Hayes was a suburban antique dealer, Daryl Stephens was a respected urology surgeon – separate worlds, yet their lives were destined to collide. In August 1999, Freeda Hayes was diagnosed with an aggressive form of kidney cancer. She was forty-seven. The hand of fate guided her to Dr Stephens, who performed a life-saving operation, giving her five precious months in which to say goodbye to family and friends. The operation also forged a special bond between Freeda and her doctor.

On 4 February 2000 Freeda Hayes died in a hospice, following visits from her brother, her sister – and Daryl Stephens. She had been in intense pain for some weeks, and over the last few days had repeatedly asked to be allowed to die. However, hospice staff considered her sudden death suspicious and police were notified.

Two months later, Daryl Stephens and Freeda’s brother and sister were arrested and all three were charged with wilful murder, a charge carrying a mandatory 15 year prison sentence. Their nightmare had begun.

Debate waged about public interest being served by charging a doctor with murder when evidence was at best, circumstantial. Pro- and anti- euthanasia lobbyists joined the argument raging over the first trial in Australia of a doctor accused of murder for ‘helping’ a patient to die.

What Happened To Freeda Hayes? is a gripping story that takes the reader to the very heart of the euthanasia debate by examining the devastating effect the tragedy of Freeda’s illness and death had on her family and those who treated her, and moral and social issues that we must all confront in dealing with a person’s right to determine their own fate.

Comments (3)

I thought I’d read all of Robin Bowles’ books but I’d missed this one. I’m glad I found it because it’s an excellent whodunnit written in an engaging and yet highly sympathetic manner. I have to say even by the end of the book, I’m still not convinced I can say just “what happened to Freeda Hayes” but I do have an opinion

Maybe it’s because I’m getting up there in years (62) but this book really made an impression on me. I’m still not entirely sure where I stand on enacting laws to allow/regulate voluntary euthanasia. It would be very hard to adequately cover all the various scenarios that would present themselves with just one ‘blanket’ law.

I don’t know what happened to Freeda Hayes, but I’m grateful that she is no longer suffering.

I do know this. If I’m in excruciating pain, and dying, I would want to have that choice.

Supreme Journalistic Integrity

Voluntary euthanasia is always a contentious issue. This makes Bowles’ reporting even more laudable. Starting with Freeda’s tragic diagnosis, she takes us through her final weeks. After a trip to London to shop and enjoy time with friends, she is admitted to a hospice when doctors can no longer to anything to prolong her life.

Months after her death under suspicious circumstances, an investigation is launched. Despite being advised that the evidence gathered is likely insufficient to secure a conviction, David Dembster is willing to proceed. And despite having scores of prosecutors at his beck and call, he refuses to utilise the human resources at his disposal. It’s almost as if he was a confederate working for the pro-choice lobby. Why else would he take such pains to torpedo his own chances for winning?

The medical summaries are brief and easily grasped by non-medical readers. Both sides are given a chance to present their case (although the pro-life arguments are considerably shorter). The book’s conclusion? When both sides are given a chance to present their cases, the side of compassion will always win out. How else can one explain a universal acquittal that came back in under ten minutes?

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