Australian Man Persuaded Wife to Suicide, Gets 10 Years in Prison

By Mimi Nguyen-ly

An Australian man who encouraged his wife to commit suicide four years ago was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Nov. 2.

Graham Morant from Queensland was convicted in October of counseling and helping his wife, Jennifer Morant, to commit suicide.

The jury was told that prior to her death, the 68-year-old Morant had driven his wife to a hardware store to buy a petrol generator.

On Nov. 30, 2014, Jennifer, then aged 56, was found dead next to the petrol generator in her car, near a note that said “Please don’t resuscitate me,” The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (the ABC) reported.

Jennifer had been suffering from chronic pain, depression, and anxiety. But she did not have a terminal illness.

A Queensland Supreme Court judge said that Morant wanted to access Jennifer’s insurance benefits. Morant stood to gain AU$1.4m (US$1 million) as the sole beneficiary of three life insurance policies.

Prosecutors said that Morant, a self-proclaimed devout Christian, told his wife that he would use the insurance money to build a religious commune on the Gold Coast, where he would be pastor, in preparation for the biblical “rapture.”

Counselled Suicide

The court heard that Morant even told his wife that committing suicide would not be seen as a sin in God’s eyes because she would be helping the church financially.

Morant also reportedly told Jennifer that she would not be strong enough to survive the rapture, the ABC reported.

“You counselled your wife to kill herself because you wanted to get your hands on the AU$1.4m,” Justice Peter Davis said in the Queensland Supreme Court on Nov. 2.

“Your general financial position was such that $1.4 million was a very significant sum, as it would be to most people,” Davis said.

Morant had pleaded not guilty to the charges, but a jury found that Jennifer would not have killed herself without his involvement.

The Daily Mail reported that Morant told police that Jennifer had wanted to die. However, two people close to Jennifer testified that she did not want to kill herself, and was afraid of what Morant kept telling her to do.

‘I had such a zest and zeal to live. She had such a zest and zeal to die,’ Morant told police in an interview, according to the Daily Mail.

Justice Davis said Morant had shown no remorse.

“You took advantage of her vulnerability as a sick and depressed woman,” Davis said to Morant.

Morant was sentenced to 10 years for counselling suicide, and six years for aiding suicide. He will serve the charges at the same time, and be eligible for parole in October 2023.

The ruling sets a national precedent as there has not been a prior case in Australia for someone to have been convicted of counselling another person to suicide.

In August 2017, a woman in the United States was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for encouraging her boyfriend to commit suicide via text messages and phone calls, according to the BBC.

In Australia, the crisis support service hotline is 13 11 14 (Lifeline).

In the United States, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255. Young people can call the Kids Help Phone on 1-800-668-6868.

Other worldwide suicide hotlines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

 
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