Euthanasia advocate fined $7500 for importing drug her friend used to take her own life

The woman who was put on trial for the assisted suicide of her friend has today been sentenced for providing the drugs she used to take her life.

Susan Austen was previously acquitted of aiding the death of her friend. Source: 1 NEWS

Susan Austen was found not guilty for aiding the suicide of Anne Marie Treadwell, but was found guilty for importing the Class C drug Pentobarbital at a trial in February.

She's today been sentenced and fined $2500 for the first charge and $5000 on the second charge, of importing the drug.

The judge in the case declined a discharge without conviction.

Austen faced a two week long trial in the High Court in Wellington. She was found not guilty on February 23 on the charge of assisting Anne Marie Treadwell to commit suicide, but guilty on two charges of importing the Class C drug.

Exit International founder Philip Nitschke says the verdict in Susan Austen's case sends a clear message an assisted dying law change is needed. Source: 1 NEWS

Pentobarbital is commonly used by vets in New Zealand to euthanise animals.

Mrs Treadwell died in June 2016 at her rest home in Wellington. Her cause of death was found to be Pentobarbital poisoning.

Susan Austen is the chair of Exit International in Wellington, and often held meetings for the pro-euthanasia group in her home. The organisation raised $70,000 from members worldwide, to help with her legal fees.

Austen's lawyer Donald Stephens QC told the court the former teacher and grandmother was a compassionate woman "focused on helping the vulnerable", volunteering for Victim Support, Women's Refuge, Rape Crisis and Alzheimer's New Zealand.

Susan Austen's defence team argued she did help the victim get a drug, but not with the intention she would use it. Source: 1 NEWS

He argued for a discharge without conviction, saying she would be the only person in New Zealand convicted for importing the drug. He also raised concerns around what a drug conviction would mean for Austen's international travel and helping her raise her grandchildren.

But the Crown argued Austen brought the drugs into the country with the intention that it would be distributed to others and that she was well aware of the law.

Austen was also supported by around 30 people outside court, who were holding signs.

On her way into court she told reporters she was glad the process was over.


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