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Australian Woman Gets Part-time Jail for Mercy Killing of Partner

by Gopalan on November 13, 2008 at 11:20 AM
 Australian Woman Gets Part-time Jail for Mercy Killing of Partner

The New South Wales Supreme Court has sentenced an Australian woman to 22 months' periodic detention for killing her partner of 18 years with a euthanasia drug.

The 60-year-old Shirley Justins had been found guilty of manslaughter of former Qantas pilot Graeme Wylie, 75.


He died from a lethal dose of the barbiturate Nembutal at his Cammeray home in Sydney in 2006.

Wylie, who had Alzheimer's disease, was rejected for a legally assisted suicide in Switzerland months before his death on the grounds he did not have the cognitive capacity to consent.

A long-time friend of Wylie, Caren Jenning, 75, who travelled to Mexico to buy the drug that killed him, was convicted of being an accessory before the fact of manslaughter.

Jenning, who was suffering terminal breast cancer, killed herself using the same drug last month.

Euthanasia activists packed the courtroom yesterday as Justice Roderick Howie sentenced Justins to at least 22 months of detention every weekend, with a maximum term of 30 months.

She will be eligible for parole on September 20, 2010.

Justice Howie denied the trial had been a euthanasia ''test case," but said the public had to be set an example that ''human life was so sacred''.

''Normally members of the public would appreciate what conduct is criminal and understand that if the offender is detected he or she will be punished,'' he said.

''But in this case there appears to be an attitude ... that somehow the conduct of the offender and Ms Jenning was justifiable. This is not so. The calculated and unlawful taking of human life is an affront to every aspect of civilised society.''

In handing down his judgment, Justice Howie said Justins had been ''selfish and cruel'' in depriving Wylie's daughters of their right to say goodbye and prepare themselves for his death.

Wylie's daughter, Tania Shakespeare, said outside the court, ''In the end, justice is done ... [Justins] did receive a custodial sentence.''

''[But] I'm heartbroken that I wasn't able to say goodbye to my father.''

Ms Shakespeare described the euthanasia group Justins and Jenning belonged to, Exit International, as a ''cult'' led by director Philip Nitschke.

Dr Nitschke described the sentence as ''reasonably lenient," but warned other euthanasia patients not to put their loved ones at risk.

Justins declined to talk to the media outside the court.

Her family and friends, however, said she would be quite relieved that she would not serve a full-time sentence, AAP reported.

Source: Medindia
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