Treatment starts for boy in court battle

A 7-year-old boy with a brain tumour has started radiotherapy in Britain following a legal battle by his New Zealand mother to prevent the treatment in favour of alternative methods.

Neon Roberts was diagnosed with a malignant tumour in October, but his radiotherapy was put on hold while his mother Sally Roberts fought the "gold standard treatment" through the British courts.

Mrs Roberts, a 37-year-old former DJ from Auckland, feared the treatment could cause her son serious side-effects.

Last month a High Court judge dismissed her case and sided with her estranged husband Ben Roberts, 34, after doctors said Neon would die within three months if he was denied radiotherapy.

The judge said he was worried that Mrs Roberts' "judgment has gone awry" over the seriousness of the threat to her son's life.

Neon began his first round of radiotherapy on Thursday after completing a course of play therapy and a practice run on Wednesday to prepare him, British media reported.

Sources said he was "doing very well", The Mirror said.

"I have seen pictures of Neon having the play therapy. It is heartbreaking," Mrs Roberts was quoted as saying.

During the court dispute last year, Mrs Roberts prompted a nationwide search in Britain after going into hiding with her son.

He has since been living with his father.

Neon's mother previously suggested she would appeal against the High Court's decision, but no appeal was made by her lawyers before Neon's treatment began, the newspaper reported.

Mr Roberts reportedly refused to allow his former wife to visit their son in hospital at Christmas.

Delays in Neon's treatment have caused increasing concerns among surgeons about Neon's chances of survival.

He had the cancerous brain tumour, called medulloblastoma, first removed in October and a second operation to remove more cancerous cells from his brain last month, which Mrs Roberts opposed.

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