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Australian who encouraged wife's suicide jailed in landmark case

Australian who encouraged wife's suicide jailed in landmark case

  • 2 November 2018
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Image caption Jennifer Morant died in 2014

An Australian man has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for encouraging his wife's suicide.

Graham Morant, 68, was convicted last month of counselling and aiding his wife, Jennifer Morant, to take her own life in 2014.

He had been motivated by a desire to access Mrs Morant's life insurance benefits, a judge ruled.

As sole beneficiary of the policy, Morant had stood to receive A$1.4m (£770,000; $1m).

"You counselled your wife to kill herself because you wanted to get your hands on the A$1.4m," Justice Peter Davis said in the Queensland Supreme Court on Friday.

Mrs Morant had suffered from chronic pain, depression and anxiety, but was not terminally ill.

Justice Davis said it appeared to be the first time globally that a person had been sentenced for counselling someone to die by suicide.

However, in August 2017, a US woman was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for encouraging her boyfriend to commit suicide through texts and calls.

'Took advantage of her vulnerability'

Morant had pleaded not guilty to the charges, but a jury found that Mrs Morant would not have ended her life without his counselling.

The 56-year-old woman was found dead alongside a petrol generator in her car on 30 November 2014. Nearby, a note read: "Please don't resuscitate me."

Her husband had previously driven her to a hardware store to buy the generator, the jury was told.

Morant, a devout Christian, had told his wife that he planned to use the insurance money to build a religious commune, according to prosecutors.

On Friday, Justice Davis said Morant had shown no remorse for his offences.

"You took advantage of her vulnerability as a sick and depressed woman," he said.

Morant received a maximum 10-year sentence for the charge of counselling suicide, and a six-year sentence for the charge of aiding suicide. The sentences will be served concurrently.

He will be eligible for parole in October 2023.

If you are feeling emotionally distressed and would like details of organisations in the UK which offer advice and support, go to bbc.co.uk/actionline.

Samaritans provide a safe place to talk where calls are completely confidential. Call 08457 90 90 90 or visit www.samaritans.org.

If you are in Australia, you can call Lifeline on 131114.