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Thread: Euthanasia or Murder????

  1. #31
    Senior Member ally's Avatar
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    In a blow to the euthanasia movement, a jury has found one women guilty of the manslaughter and another an accessory to the manslaughter of Alzheimer's sufferer and former Qantas pilot Graeme Wylie.

    Mr Wylie's partner Shirley Justins, 59, and his long-term friend Caren Jenning, 75, were accused of plotting to kill him.

    Justins was found guilty of manslaughter and Jenning of being an accessory to manslaughter.

    Mr Wylie, 71, died in March 2006 from an overdose of the veterinary drug Nembutal, which Jenning had bought and illegally imported from Mexico, and which Justins had given to him in their Cammeray home.

    He had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in March 2003 and the case centered on his capacity at the time of his death to decide he wanted to commit suicide.

    Evidence on this had been conflicting and the jury deliberated for three days after the six-week trial.

    The prosecution had argued Mr Wylie, who had been assessed as suffering from moderate to severe dementia, and who, four months before his death, could not remember the number or sex of his children or his own date of birth, was no longer able to decide to kill himself.

    Therefore, Crown prosecutor Mark Tedeschi, QC, argued his death was not a suicide, but murder or manslaughter.

    But the court also heard evidence from his sisters and a former friend, who said they had lucid conversations with him in the three months before his death.

    Nine days into the trial, Justins changed her plea and admitted to aiding Mr Wylie's suicide, but Mr Tedeschi told the court he did not accept the plea and was going to pursue the other charges.

    Euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke gave evidence about a consultation with Mr Wylie, who had applied to have an assisted suicide in Switzerland.


    But the Swiss organisation Dignitas rejected the application in December 2005, finding the evidence about his capacity was conflicting and it could not be certain he would qualify for an assisted suicide under Swiss law.

    In February 2006, Dr Nitschke again met Justins and Jenning to discuss further options for Mr Wylie.

    The court also heard that Mr Wylie's will - in Justins' favour - was changed a week before his death. Under an old will she stood to gain half of his $2.4 million estate, with the rest to be divided between his daughters



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  2. #32
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    Under the new will the daughters were left $100,000 each, with Justins to gain $2.2 million of the estate. The daughters are contesting the will in the Supreme Court on the basis Mr Wylie did no longer have the capacity to make a new will at the time.

    Jenning is also to be sentenced for importing the Nembutal, a charge to which she has pleaded guilty.

    The women did not react to the verdicts, but their supporters in the public gallery cried out in surprise.

    Outside the court, Dr Nitschke said that his organisation Exit International would now be warning its members to "tread very carefully" and hold workshops for people with Alzheimer's disease to inform them about how to get around the implications of today's decision.

    Members of Jenning's family and other supporters wept and muttered angrily.

    Justice Roderick Howie thanked the jury for their attention in what he said must have been an extraordinarily difficult case.

    Outside court, Jenning said she did not wish to comment, but her lawyer Sam Macedone briefly spoke to reporters about the verdict. "I've been in this too long to be shocked by anything," Mr Macedone said.

    "Caren is quite well and everything will be fine."

    Justins also offered no comment to waiting media as she was escorted from court by her barrister Peter Bodor, QC, her eyes shielded by sunglasses.

    Bail was continued for both women, and Jenning's counsel indicated they would be seeking a non-custodial sentence.

    "I would ask that a pre-sentence report be obtained to see what available options there are, other then a custodial sentence," Michael Williams, QC, told the court.

    "This is a very unusual case, your honour, and not one, in my respectful submission, that would [require] an ordinary sentence for my client."

    Jenning is suffering from terminal cancer.

    Justice Howie adjourned the matter to allow for the gathering of medical and other evidence on sentence to October 7, with a likely sentence date in November.


  3. #33
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    A JURY has found two women guilty over the euthanasia of Alzheimer's sufferer Graeme Wylie.

    Shirley Justins was found guilty by the New South Wales Supreme Court jury of manslaughter and Caren Jenning was found guilty of being an accessary to manslaughter.

    Mr Wylie died from an overdose of Nembutal, a widely-advocated euthanasia drug, at his northern Sydney home in March 2006.

    The 71-year-old had been refused a legally assisted death in Switzerland four months earlier, on the basis of his questionable cognitive ability.

    Justins, 59, who was Mr Wylie's partner, was charged with murder while old family friend Jenning, 75, was tried as an accessary before the fact of murder.

    The jury instead found them guilty on the alternative charges of manslaughter and accessary to manslaughter.

    It rejected another option, of finding the two guilty of aiding and abetting suicide.

    Justins and Jenning showed no reaction as the verdicts were read but euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke, who was in court, gasped.

    One week before his overdose, Mr Wylie drew up a new will leaving all but $200,000 of his $2.4 million estate to Justins.

    The previous will had left 50 per cent to Justins and split the remaining half evenly between his daughters Tania Shakespeare and Nicola Dumbrell.

    Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC told the jury Justins was motivated by a desire to secure her financial future and either deliberately killed Mr Wylie or let him take the Nembutal and was indifferent to the fatal consequences.

    Justins pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting suicide early in the trial, and said Mr Wylie was desperate to die before his dementia got worse.

    Jenning also told the jury she was motivated by mercy in travelling to Mexico to obtain the Nembutal for Mr Wylie, who was one of her oldest friends.

    Bail was continued for both women, and Jenning's counsel indicated they would be seeking a non-custodial sentence.

    "I would ask that a pre-sentence report be obtained to see what available options there are, other then a custodial sentence," Michael Williams QC told the court.

    "This is a very unusual case, your honour, and not one, in my respectful submission, that would (require) an ordinary sentence for my client."

    Jenning is suffering from terminal cancer.

    Justice Howie adjourned the case until October 7.

    Neither woman commented as they left court.


  4. #34
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    Well done Ally! Thanks for all your work in sharing this great case with us. It has been informative and I looked forward to reading every section that you posted. I wonder what kind of sentence they will receive for their actions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucky13 View Post
    Well done Ally! Thanks for all your work in sharing this great case with us. It has been informative and I looked forward to reading every section that you posted. I wonder what kind of sentence they will receive for their actions.
    I think it will be almost 20 years maximum, so they will probably serve about 7 years

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  6. #36
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    AUDIO:

    'It sends all the wrong messages': Philip Nitschke
    Euthanasia campaigners say a jury's decision to convict two Sydney women over the euthanasia drug death of former Qantas pilot Graeme Wylie is disgusting and distressing.

    The Supreme court jury has found Mr WYlie's partner, 59-year-old Shirley Justins guilty of manslaughter and 75-year-old family friend Caren Jenning guilty of being an accessary to manslaughter.

    Mr Wylie, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, died at his Sydney home in March 2006 after an overdose of the euthanasia drug Nembutal.

    The 71-year-old had been refused a legally assisted death in Switzerland four months earlier becuase of his questionable cognitive ability.


  7. #37
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    TWO women who say they were helping an Alzheimer's sufferer fulfil his wish to die, have been found guilty of killing him.

    Shirley Justins and Caren Jenning, who had allegedly refused an earlier prosecution deal to plead guilty to assisting a suicide, may face prison terms when they are sentenced later in the year.

    The verdict, a blow to the euthanasia movement, came after a six-week trial which did not cover the concept of a possible "mercy killing", and concentrated instead on alleged financial and personal motives - including an alleged love affair between Justins and a German woman.

    Graeme Wylie, 71, a former Qantas pilot, died in March 2006 from an overdose of the veterinary drug Nembutal, bought in Mexico and illegally imported by Jenning, a long-term friend and a former NSW representative of the euthanasia group Exit International. Justins, his partner of 18 years, provided the drug to him, which she said he poured and drank, knowing it would kill him.

    The crucial question in the Supreme Court case had been whether Mr Wylie was so affected by dementia that he could still decide for himself to commit suicide. Evidence from doctors and his daughters was contradicted by evidence from his sisters, Jenning, and, partly, Justins.

    In finding Justins, 59, guilty of manslaughter and Jenning, 75, of being an accessory before the fact to manslaughter, the jury rejected the alternative charge of assisted suicide and the suggestion that he had been able to make up his mind to die.

    Family and supporters of the women wept and gasped as the verdict was handed down. Outside the court, the euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke, who had assessed Mr Wylie for an application for an assisted suicide in Switzerland in 2005, said he thought Mr Wylie still "knew what he was doing".

    The outcome meant, Dr Nitschke said, that people with dementia would have to "end their lives before their time" to ensure those helping them did not face murder charges. He would change the way his organisation, Exit International, advised people with Alzheimer's. "Don't go to your doctor. Don't have the tests and if you do have the tests done that show you're starting to lose mental capacity, make sure it is not recorded."

    The complex case was full of twists and dramas, many kept from the eyes and ears of the jury.

    While jurors were told of Justins's alleged financial motive - Mr Wylie had changed his will a week before his death in her favour - they had not been told that his partner allegedly had a female lover in Germany.

    Justice Roderick Howie ruled the prosecution was not allowed to tell the jury about Justins's contact with Bergi Mueller. The prosecution said the women had met three times and exchanged emails "of an intimate nature" discussing sex and had talked of dreaming about one another and the desire to be in the sauna together.

    Justice Howie said their emails dating from 2002 to 2004 indicated "more than mere friendship" and the way the women referred to one another showed "at least some sexual interest".

    Later the Crown produced evidence that Justins, an avid photographer, had accessed a nude photo of Ms Mueller on her laptop computer in October 2005 - at a time when she was applying on Mr Wylie's behalf for an assisted suicide in Switzerland.

    Justins never became emotional in her evidence, nor spoke of intimate conversations with Mr Wylie to prove he had discussed his death with her. When police failed to see female clothes or toiletries in Mr Wylie's house at Cammeray, the theory that Justins was no longer committed to the relationship might have been born. A search of her phone and computer records brought evidence about the alleged love affair in Germany.

    The jury was also barred from hearing evidence about Dr Nitschke's role in the suicide of Nancy Crick, who claimed to have terminal cancer, but only had a twisted bowel.

    Dr Nitschke only agreed to talk to police after being subpoenaed. He had received a certificate against incrimination when he was asked about Exit's role in informing people about suicide.

    Outside court, Nicola Dumbrell, Mr Wylie's youngest daughter from a previous marriage, told reporters: "I think the verdict is correct."

    The women were released on bail and their case will return to court in October when a date will be set for sentencing. Jenning, who is also to be sentenced for the drug importation, is ill with terminal cancer. Her barrister, Michael Williams, QC, asked the court for a report on options other than imprisonment


  8. #38
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    Controversial advice for Alzheimer's sufferers to conceal their disease if they plan to end their life early has been challenged by disease experts.

    Euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke has said he will urge Alzheimer's patients who contact his organisation, Exit International, not to go to a doctor, to avoid legal complications around their premature death.

    He made the comments after a NSW jury convicted two Sydney women of manslaughter over the euthanasia drug death of former Qantas pilot Graeme Wylie, an Alzheimer's patient.

    Mr Wylie, 71, died from an overdose of Nembutal, a widely-advocated euthanasia drug, at his northern Sydney home in March 2006.

    Dr Nitschke said Thursday's verdict sent a "dreadful message" to elderly people with the degenerative brain condition and would force those choosing euthanasia to end their lives even sooner to protect their loved ones from criminal charges.

    "Many people said this person knew what he was doing. I thought he knew what he was doing. Yet they base it on the medical evidence that he had lost his ability to make a decision, that he had lost his ability to say whether he could die or not," he said outside court.

    "We'll be advising people not to (declare they have Alzheimer's).

    "Don't go to your doctor. Don't have the tests done. And if you do have the tests done that show that you're starting to lose mental capacity, make sure it is not recorded."

    But Glenn Rees from Alzheimer's Australia said the advice was "worrying on many levels".

    "Diagnosis is vital for people with dementia, so they can get all the support they need to avoid depression and the things that might lead to this (euthanasia), so it's ridiculous to say they shouldn't get it," Mr Rees said.

    "The last thing they should be doing is running away from a diagnosis."

    Brian Draper, a professor at the University of NSW school of psychiatry, agreed, saying Dr Nitschke had illustrated "incredible ignorance" of Alzheimer's disease.

    "The vast majority of people are able to still enjoy their lives for years and those opting to end it early are a tiny minority that don't have the support, care and comfort they need," Prof Draper said.

    "We need to make sure they're getting this so they don't end up choosing this path."

    But Professor Colin Masters, director of the Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria, said the issue was not so clear cut.

    "He (Dr Nitschke) has a point. A diagnosis of any illness which could be claimed to affect the ability to make an informed judgment does have major adverse implications," Prof Masters said.

    "I think people should be free to choose how they want to end their lives."


  9. #39
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    The conviction of two women over the euthanasia death of a former Qantas pilot will not force a review of his assisted suicide group Exit International, says Dr Philip Nitschke.

    Shirley Justins, 59, and Caren Jenning, 75, both face up to 25 years in jail after on Thursday being found guilty over the manslaughter of Alzheimer's sufferer Graeme Wylie.

    Mr Wylie, 71, was killed with a lethal dose of the barbiturate Nembutal at his Cammeray home in Sydney in March 2006.

    Justins, Mr Wylie's de facto wife of 18 years, was found guilty of manslaughter in the NSW Supreme Court for giving Mr Wylie the Nembutal.

    Jenning was convicted of being an accessary before the fact of manslaughter because she travelled to Mexico to buy the euthanasia drug.

    The jury found Justins had failed to ascertain if Mr Wylie had the mental ability to decide to die.

    Dr Nitschke on Friday said the guilty verdict would not put a halt to Exit International, but would act as a test case for the euthanasia advocates.

    "It's very hard to go to a person when they come to you and say: `Look, I'm sorry we're actually stopping, and we're reviewing all our processes'," he said at a press conference with Jenning's daughter Kate.

    "We'll still be giving information out ... but we'll be telling people to move quickly.

    "And that, in the case of a person with Alzheimer's disease, means that they may have to move more quickly, and end their lives more quickly before this whole issue of capacity to make a decision comes to the fore."

    Kate Jenning on Friday criticised the jury verdict, saying her mother was just helping a close friend end his life.

    "Certainly, the drug was not administered to someone who didn't want to die," Ms Jenning said.

    "He had a history of trying to commit suicide.

    "He was a proud man that my mother knew for 30 years. She was probably his closest, dearest friend."

    Ms Jenning denied money motived Mr Wylie's death.

    Suspicion fell upon Justins after police discovered his will had been changed one week before he died, leaving all but $200,000 of his $2.4 million estate to her.

    "She (Caren Jenning) had absolutely nothing to gain monetarily," Kate Jenning said.

    "I don't believe this had anything to do with money.

    "Shirley (Justins) is a sweet soul ... she cared greatly for Graeme and did what she thought he wanted."

    Ms Jenning said her mother, who has terminal bone cancer, was not expected to live to the sentencing in October.

    She said it was unlikely her mother would also use Nembutal to take her own life.

    "She wouldn't have the strength to make a trip like that again," Ms Jenning said.

    "If she could have she would have (bought the drug on her trip to Mexico)."

    Asked where the two women went wrong, Dr Nitschke said: "At the time you're talking about desperate people in desperate circumstances making mistakes".

    "Looking back, why didn't he change his will earlier?" he asked.

    "Why didn't he even leave a note that he was going down this path ... Why didn't he just go to Mexico?

    "He could have died in Mexico and not broken any laws. He could have gone over there, bought his Nembutal, gone to Acapulco and had a very easy death."


  10. #40
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    GRAEME WYLIE allegedly told his partner, Shirley Justins, he thought committing suicide would be a lot easier.

    More than two years after his death, Justins and Wylie's long-term friend, Caren Jenning, told a court of his various alleged attempts: slitting his wrists with a blunt knife, placing bags over his head and being unable to bear the suffocation, breathing the carbon monoxide from an old lawnmower but being unable to bear the fumes.

    Eventually, Jenning travelled to Mexico, bought the veterinary drug Nembutal, illegally imported it into Australia and handed it to Justins.

    Justins said she placed it in front of Wylie, telling him it would relieve his pain and he would die if he drank it. He poured it, drank it, and died. By that stage, Wylie was 71. He had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease - a form of progressive dementia - three years earlier.

    He had seen the world as a Qantas pilot, loved to discuss current affairs, was passionate about classical music and the perfect sound from hi-fi speakers. He was a vegetarian and loved animals. He was a proud, determined, private, stubborn, dominating man.

    And he hated the idea of losing control, of becoming a burden to Justins, of being institutionalised, of becoming dependent, of turning into a dribbling vegetable, of peeing his pants, the court heard.

    His death could have been an example par excellence for the pro-euthanasia movement, a showcase of a sick person seeking help to die with dignity. Instead, the trial that eventuated almost became a showcase of how not to do it, and threatened to draw the movement, and its founder, Dr Philip Nitschke, into the maelstrom.

    The case highlighted - depending on your viewpoint - poor planning, complex family circumstances and difficult personalities, or - as the prosecution argued - greed and personal interest.

    One thing became clear: there were no winners in this case. Not only did the cause of euthanasia law reform suffer in this messy example, so did those close to Wylie.

    The case also exposed the split between Justins - Wylie's third partner - and his children by his first wife. A battle over his will - amended in Justins's favour a week before he died - continues.

    The daughters were at times barely able to hold back their disdain and tears. In the witness box, Nicola Dumbrell called Exit International a "cult" and Jenning the instigator of her father's death. Her sister, Tania Shakespeare, later muttered abuse while listening to Justins's evidence.

    Dumbrell smiled broadly as the jury handed down its guilty verdicts yesterday.

    The case also showed a strained relationship between Justins, an unemotional, outdoorsy woman who was often confused and contradictory in her evidence, and Jenning, the articulate, socially aware, former English teacher and pro-euthanasia advocate with terminal cancer, who was already planning her death.

    Not even Wylie could rest in peace - every detail of this very private man's life, and illness, was aired.

    At the centre of the case was the dispute about Wylie's capacity to decide to kill himself. If he had the mental capacity, Justins was guilty of assisting his suicide - a law the euthanasia supporters (many of whom followed the trial every day) seek to have changed.

    The court heard a lot of conflicting evidence about the state of Wylie's health. Cognitive tests and the post-mortem of his brain suggest his dementia was moderate to severe. This is supported by evidence from his daughters. But Justins said he hated doctors and was not interested in passing the tests.

    Jenning insisted she still talked to him right to the end, and suicide became his "singular preoccupation".

    Nitschke, who assessed Wylie for an application for an assisted suicide in Switzerland but did not review his medical reports, found that even though Wylie was "unable to recall his date of birth or the number and sex of his children", he "retained significant insight and was adamant" he wanted to die.

    By its verdict, the jury must have decided he no longer had the capacity.

    While there was doubt about his capacity to reason about suicide, there seemed to be less doubt about Wylie's desire to die before his illness got too bad. Even Shakespeare said he had told her he had "to go, it's so bad".

    But Dignitas knocked him back in December 2005, because it said it could not be sure he was able to decide he wanted to die. The prosecution said this put Justins and Jenning on notice.

    Around the same time he allegedly told his sister his life had become boring and he was unable to do the things he enjoyed: go to the opera, visit restaurants, walk around unaided.

    So, perhaps, the problem for Wylie was that, because he found suicide so difficult, he left it too late.

    Justins told the court she believed Wylie could not have organised the suicide without their help at the time of his death in March 2006.

    The law does not allow someone to help another person to die even if they have been asked, but when the person who wants to die can no longer decide for themselves, the stakes rise from assisted suicide to murder or manslaughter.

    Whether Wylie's alleged suicide attempts were real or not, evidence of his suicidal intention was laid six months before his death, when he was taken to a doctor with cuts to his wrists.

    Dr Omprakash Gupta stitched the wrists. Later, he issued a certificate about Wylie's Alzheimer's, which was used without Gupta's knowledge to support the Dignitas application, even though he was not his treating doctor.

    Days before Wylie's death, Gupta prescribed the anti-nausea drug recommended to prevent a patient from vomiting the deadly Nembutal, without knowing its real purpose. He also issued another certificate, not knowing it was to reassure the solicitor who organised Wylie's new will, stating he was "still capable of making his own decisions".

    But Gupta let down Justins on the day of Wylie's death by refusing to sign a death certificate after Wylie's regular GP, who had not seen him recently, had refused to do so.

    When no other doctor could be found, the plan to conceal that Wylie had died from an illegal drug came unstuck. An autopsy was necessary. It detected he had died from Nembutal, and a police inquiry started.

    If the real purpose of helping Wylie to die was for Justins to inherit his $2.4 million estate, leaving the will change until a week before his death was a risky move. Under the previous will, she stood to gain 50 per cent. Under the new one, she gained all but $200,000.

    No wonder the daughters questioned their father's ability to make a valid will. The court case about this is still pending.

    But in this case, Justins admitted in court that Jenning had fabricated evidence to "beef up" the evidence of Wylie's capacities. In admitting this, she unwittingly exposed both of them to further charges of perverting the course of justice. It is unclear whether such charges will be pursued. Jenning has denied the allegations.

    On the day Wylie died, police claim, Justins did not cry. At no time in her evidence did she become emotional, or speak of intimate conversations between her and Wylie in an effort to prove he discussed his death with her.

    The prosecution had alleged that she had two motives for wanting Wylie dead: one financial and one personal. Moral or ethical considerations seem to have barely entered the equation.


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