Australian Euthanasia Advocate Caren Jenning Felt Bullied During Trial

by Gopalan on Sep 22 2008 3:10 PM

Australian euthanasia advocate Caren Jenning who took her life last week had felt bullied and persecuted during her trial over her assisting the death of her friend. The court pronounced her guilty.

At a Voluntary Euthanasia conference in Sydney Monday, Jenning's friend Dr Philip Nitschke read from a statement prepared by Ms Jenning before her death.

In the statement, she says she felt persecuted and bullied by the prosecution during her trial.

“This treatment was unfair and it was this behaviour that was significant in my decision to end my life,” she says.

Jenning, 75, last week gave herself a lethal dose of the barbiturate Nembutal, a powerful sedative banned for human consumption in Australia.

She had travelled to Tijuana in Mexico to obtain the drug in February 2006 - one bottle for her long-time friend Graeme Wylie and another for herself.

Wylie's partner Shirley Justins was also convicted by a New South Wales Supreme Court jury in June of manslaughter by using the nembutal to kill Wylie in March 2006.

Jenning, who was suffering terminal breast cancer which had spread to her bones, was found guilty of having been an accomplice.

Jenning's solicitor Sam Macedone also read from the statement.

“All I did was to help my very dear friend, Graeme Wylie, achieve what he so desperately wanted to do - and that is, suicide in a very peaceful way,” Macedone read.

“I did not benefit in any way from his death.”

Jenning's daughter, Kate Jennings, today said her mother's suicide highlighted the plight of those who sought voluntary euthanasia.

“While it is not illegal to end one's life in Australia, legal implications make it prohibitive to do so in the company of loved ones,” she said.

“This is why my mother, Caren Jenning, died alone.”

She said she hoped her mother was remembered as a “strong, proud woman” of “great integrity”.

Dr Nitschke later said he doubted Jenning's comments would have much impact upon the prosecutors in the case.

“The prosecutors did, no doubt, what they felt they had to do, but the result in its wake was two very bruised and broken women,” he said.

Justins and Jenning were due to be sentenced on October 7.

Crown prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC would not be drawn on the accusations today.

“It would not be appropriate for me to comment as the matter has not yet been resolved,” he said, referring to the October 7 hearing.