Friday, 11 May 2018

Punished for high values


Euthanasia advocate fined for importing suicide drug

A euthanasia advocate found guilty of importing a drug which can be used to commit suicide has been denied a discharge without conviction.
Susan Austen was found guilty of importing a suicide drug to New Zealand and was denied a discharge without conviction at her sentencing on Friday, 11 May, 2018.

11 May, 2018

Susan Austen was found guilty of importing a suicide drug to New Zealand and was denied a discharge without conviction at her sentencing on Friday, 11 May, 2018. Photo: RNZ/Richard Tindiller

After a trial in the High Court in Wellington in February, Susan Dale Austen was found guilty of two importations of pentobarbitone, but acquitted of assisting the suicide of Annemarie Treadwell.

Earlier this year the jury found Austen not guilty on one count of importing the drug but guilty on two other counts of importing it, including bringing into New Zealand the drugs Ms Treadwell used to kill herself.

Her lawyer Donald Stevens sought a discharge without conviction, saying his client had displayed high ideals in her life, including support for others, compassion, and love for humanity.

Justice Thomas convicted and fined Austen a total of $7500, along with court costs at the sentencing on Friday, 11 May, 2018.Justice Thomas convicted and fined Austen a total of $7500, along with court costs at the sentencing on Friday, 11 May, 2018. Photo: RNZ/Richard Tindiller

However, Justice Thomas said Austen's crusade for a law change, as the head of the Wellington branch of pro-euthanasia group Exit International, did not reduce her culpability for breaking the current law.

She entered a conviction and fined Austen a total of $7500, along with court costs.

Euthanasia advocates stood outside the court during the sentencing holding up signs to support Austen's cause.

Euthanasia advocates stood outside the court during Susan Austen's sentencing on Friday, 11 May, 2018.Euthanasia advocates stood outside the court during Susan Austen's sentencing on Friday, 11 May, 2018. Photo: RNZ/Richard Tindiller

The charges relate to the death of Ms Treadwell, 77, who was found dead at a retirement village in Kilbirnie in Wellington in June 2016.

Ms Treadwell's death was initially treated as not suspicious, but after a suicide note was found the police investigated and a postmortem revealed she had died from pentobarbitone toxicity.

Ms Treadwell's diary revealed she was a member of a euthanasia lobby group, which Ms Austen was also involved with.

In the diary she referred to "suzy" helping her to obtain drugs from overseas and also the support "suzy" was giving her.

It was revealed during the two-week trial that police had bugged Austen's telephones, home and car.

Excerpts were played at previous court sessions, including part of a meeting of a euthanasia group held at her home.

Police were also found to have conducted a bogus drink-driving checkpoint down the road from a Hutt Valley euthanasia meeting and had used that pretext to collect the names and addresses of of those involved.

A decision from the Independent Police Conduct Authority ruled that the operation was unlawful

After the verdict in February, Austen said she was heartened by the support she had received.

"I feel absolutely delighted. It's a glorious sunny day in Wellington and I'm very lucky.

"I'm so fortunate to have my gorgeous husband and one of my sons here and all the supporters who have come from all around the world to be here to support me."



David Goodall: Scientist, 104, ends his life in Switzerland


Scientist David Goodall, 104, has died after choosing to end his life at a clinic in Switzerland, a right-to-die organisation says.
Australian scientist David Goodall attends a press conference on May 9 2018, on the eve of his assisted suicide in Basel.



11 May, 2018


The lauded London-born ecologist and botanist, who was not terminally ill, said the decision had been driven by his deteriorating quality of life.

Mr Goodall had flown from Australia for his assisted suicide, attracting the attention of people around the world.

Shortly before his death, he said he was "happy to end" his life.

"My life has been rather poor for the past year or so and I'm very happy to end it," he said, surrounded by several family members.

"All the publicity that this has been receiving can only, I think, help the cause of euthanasia for the elderly, which I want."

The academic died "peacefully" at 10:30 GMT at the Life Cycle clinic in Basel, from an infusion of Nembutal, a barbiturate, said Philip Nitschke, founder of Exit International, the group which helped him take his own life.

He was visibly frustrated by the process of formal paperwork, and Mr Nitschke later said: "In fact his last words were 'This is taking an awfully long time!'"

Australian scientist David Goodall with Exit founder and director, Philiip Nitschke, and Moritz Gall. Australian scientist David Goodall with Exit founder and director, Philiip Nitschke, and Moritz Gall. Photo: AFP

Mr Goodall's last meal was his favourite - fish and chips and cheesecake - and in his final minutes he was played Ode to Joy from Beethoven's 9th symphony.

Mr Goodall had lived on his own in a small flat in Perth, Western Australia, until only a few weeks before his trip to Switzerland.

He stepped back from full-time employment in 1979, but remained heavily involved in his field of work.

Among his achievements in recent years, Mr Goodall edited a 30-volume book series called Ecosystems of the World and was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his scientific work.

In 2016, aged 102, he won a battle to keep working on campus at Perth's Edith Cowan University, where he was an unpaid honorary research associate.

Mr Goodall said he resented having to leave Australia to end his life. Assisted dying is legal in only one state, but eligibility requires a person to be terminally ill.
Meanwhile, Switzerland has allowed assisted suicide since 1942.

Mr Goodall arrived in Basel on Monday after visiting relatives in France, and spent his final full day exploring the Basel University botanic gardens with three of his grandchildren.

At a press conference on Wednesday, he said he was surprised by the public interest in his case. He said: "I no longer want to continue life.

"One wants to, at my age, even rather less than my age... to be free to choose death when the death is at an appropriate time."

He wanted no funeral and requested that his body be donated to medicine or his ashes sprinkled locally, Exit International said.

Assisted suicide describes any act that intentionally helps another person kill themselves, for example by providing them with the means to do so, most commonly by prescribing a lethal medication.

It differs from euthanasia, which is a third-party intervention to end a life to relieve suffering, such as when a doctor administers the lethal dose.

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