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 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.


Need to talk? 1737 – Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor

Lifeline – Free call 0800 LIFELINE (543 354), or free text HELP (4357)
- 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email

Samaritans – 0800 726 666

Healthline – 0800 611 116

Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 or free text 4202 or

The Lowdown: A website to help young New Zealanders recognise and understand depression or anxiety. or free text 5626 –  Online e-therapy tool provided by the University of Auckland that helps young people learn skills to deal with feeling down, depressed or stressed

OUTLine NZ – 0800 688 5463 for support related to sexual orientation or gender identity 

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

'This person would still be alive today if he’d actually stopped' - police plead to drivers to think before fleeing after another pursuit death

Drivers have been warned by police to pull over and stop or they are putting lives at risk after a 25-year-old man died in a police pursuit in Bay of Plenty this morning.

The man, who died after crashing into a tree near Kawerau, is the second person to die this week in a police pursuit following an incident in New Plymouth on Monday.

“The thing is pull over and stop, this person would still be alive today if he’d actually stopped,” Superintendent Andy McGregor told media.

“You look at the consequences for his family, you look at the tragic loss they’ve suffered and this is what they have to go through,” he said.

The man's family and police staff are shaken by what took place near Kawerau overnight. Source: 1 NEWS

“Our thoughts are with the family at this time, it’s a tragic thing to happen.”

Police saw a car being driven at high speed near Kawerau around 3.30am with officers losing sight of the vehicle.

A short time later the same vehicle was seen without its lights on.

Police tried to stop the 25-year-old but he sped off, with police giving chase, before he lost control less than a minute later. He died at the scene.

Superintendent McGregor defended police actions in the pursuit.

“We actually carry out risk assessments all the time in terms of pursuits, if they get very dangerous, we abandon pursuits,” he said.

Superintendent McGregor said police are carrying out an investigation into the death.

The driver was observed speeding and then travelling with their lights off. Source: Breakfast

The independent police conduct authority has also been notified.

Drivers have been warned about trying to evade police after a 25-year-old man died following a police pursuit this morning, the second death in a pursuit this week. Source: 1 NEWS


Watch: Three arrested after armed police swarm Auckland suburb, one man found hiding in Otahuhu College hallway

Auckland's King's College and Otahuhu College were put into lockdown this morning after three men fled from police and tried to hide on school grounds.

King's College and Otahuhu College were both placed on lockdown, with one offender found hiding in a hallway. Source: 1 NEWS

ONN 1 News at 6 promo image
For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

The trio failed to stop for police and were seen heading in to Otahuhu College about 9.30am.

Police put both schools, which are adjacent, into lockdown and dog units, and armed police "who happened to be nearby" came to help "as a precaution", police said, adding that no weapons were found on the offenders.

AOS squad members at King's College in Otahuhu.
AOS squad members at King's College in Otahuhu. Source: King's College student

Police said all three men have been taken into custody, with two quickly arrested and one found about an hour later hiding inside a school hallway.

The lockdown was lifted about 11am.

Texts were sent to parents during the lockdown, and many gathered outside outside Otahuhu College and King's College in tears.

King's College said it would be in direct contact with parents and guardians. 

The Royal Auckland and Grange Golf Club was also advised by police to keep all of their members inside during the lockdown.

Police have swarmed on the suburb of Otahuhu as they search for a person. Source: 1 NEWS