Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Australian man loses appeal in his conviction for assisting the suicide of his wife for $1.4 million.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Jennifer Morant
In a unanimous decision, the Queensland Australia Court of Appeal upheld the conviction of Graham Morant who assisted the suicide of his wife, Jennifer Morant (56) for her $1.4 million in life insurance

Morant was convicted in October, 2018 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Commentary by Richard Egan on the Court of Appeal decision (Link).

In an article published by the Brisbane Times by Lidia Lynch, Lynch explains why Morant's conviction appeal failed. Lynch reports:

Morant was the sole beneficiary of his wife's three life insurance policies, totalling $1.4 million.

Ms Morant lived with chronic back pain and found even the most simple everyday tasks difficult.

But Morant persuaded her over the months before her death by telling her the funds would go towards building a religious commune.

Morant claimed to police his wife wanted to die, but two witnesses close to her testified she did not want to kill herself and was scared by his pressure on her to do so.
Morant's lawyers appealed his conviction on four grounds and argued for a retrial based on emails between Ms Morant and Dr Nitschke came to light after the initial conviction. Lynch explains why the Court of Appeal didn't view these emails as effecting the conviction:

In the emails sent months before her death, Ms Morant told Dr Nitschke about her suffering and sought his help.

She told him of her anguish and pain and asked for his help about "how to end my life in a peaceful manner".

In his reasons, Court of Appeal President Walter Sofronoff acknowledged the emails were not available to Morant's lawyers at trial.

"However, it is impossible to see how they could have helped the appellant to secure an acquittal," he wrote.

"It would, instead, have reinforced Ms Morant’s vulnerability to the appellant’s inducements."
At his sentencing in November 2018, ABC News Australia reported Justice Peter Davis stating:
"You took advantage of her vulnerability as a sick and depressed woman. 
You counselled your wife to kill herself because you wanted to get your hands on the $1.4 million. 
Your general financial position was such that $1.4 million was a very significant sum, as it would be to most people. 
You have not shown any remorse for the offences you have committed. 
You did not plead guilty and you did not cooperate with the administration of justice."
Candice Lewis
The coercion used by Graham Morant that led to the assisted suicide death of his wife Jennifer is not indicative of most assisted suicide deaths, but it is also not uncommon.

In Canada, Candice Lewis, among others, was pressured by her doctors to ask for an assisted death. We will never know how many assisted deaths occurred after the person was pressured by doctors, nurses, family members or friends because the victim is dead and the victimizer thinks that it was the right thing to do.

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