Husband discharged over wife's suicide

Husband discharged over wife's suicide

An Auckland man who helped his wife die was her "hero" and ending her suffering from multiple sclerosis was a "courageous" act, his lawyer has told a court.

Evans James Mott, 61, was discharged without conviction in the High Court at Auckland this morning after he pleaded guilty to a charge of aiding and abetting the suicide of Rosemary Mott, who died at her home in Paritai Dr, Orakei, on December 28, last year.

A packed public gallery of right-to-die advocates applauded when Justice Patricia Courtney announced Mott would not face a penalty.

Lawyer Ron Mansfield earlier told the court Mott believed in the sanctity of life, as did his wife Rosie.

"The reality for her was that life is more than just bodily function. Life, for her, was the full experience."

"Mr Mott would have been her hero."

Rosie was suffering from an aggressive form of multiple sclerosis that gave her tremors, incontinence, made it hard for her to feed herself and made it hard to walk.

She resolved to take her life in 2010.

Mansfield said Rosie needed someone who would listen to her, help her, and not betray her by reporting her to authorities.

He asked the court to consider what it must have been like for Mott to have to say goodbye to his wife and leave the house while she took her life, so he could not charged in relation to the death.

"He is not a coward," Mansfield said.

Mansfield asked for a discharge without conviction arguing that a conviction would be out of proportion to the offending as it would prevent him from travelling to countries, notably the United States, for work.

English-born Mott is a skilled craftsman and boatbuilder and has worked on superyachts around the world.

Crown prosecutor Anna Longdill opposed a discharge saying it was not clear the US regarded Evans-Mott's crime as one of "moral turpitude".

The definition of moral turpitude in the US visa manual included "intent to harm persons or things" but it expressly did not include "attempted suicide".

Longdill said the Crown admitted the crime was committed out of compassion for Mott's wife.

Justice Patricia Courtney said Mott received the material for the life-ending apparatus and constructed it three months before the death.

She said it was Rosie's decision to take her life and she would have found a way to do so even without help.

Rosie made a video saying goodbye and explaining her choice which was provided to the court.

Multiple sclerosis is a disorder of the nerves in the brain and spinal cord which can cause fatigue, tickling or numbness or acute pain and often progresses to physical and cognitive disability.

Exit International, a pro-choice group, said Rosemary contacted the Auckland chapter about a year ago. It said she accessed a book, which is partially censored in New Zealand, about voluntary euthanasia.

In November last year, Auckland-born scientist Sean Davison was sentenced to five months home detention for assisting the suicide of his terminally ill mother in Dunedin.

His charges followed the publication of his book, Before We Say Goodbye, in which he admitted giving his mother morphine before she died.

Another pro-euthanasia campaigner, Lesley Martin, was convicted and sentenced in 2004 under similar circumstances following the publication of her book To Die Like a Dog.

Mott will be sentenced in September   

Auckland Now, Ian Steward