'Rejoicing it's over' - Wellington jury find euthanasia advocate Susan Austen not guilty of assisting friend's suicide

A Wellington jury have found Susan Austen not guilty on a charge of assisted suicide, after she gave her friend the drug pentobarbitone in 2016.

Austen was also found not guilty on one charge of importing the class C drug, namely Pentobarbitone, in the Wellington High Court this afternoon.

However, she was also found guilty on two charges of importing a class C drug, namely Pentobarbitone.

The drug, taken in large quantities, can suppress the central nervous system, causing a coma and death.

Susan Austen was accused of importing the drug, pentobarbitone, and giving it to her friend, Annemarie Treadwell, knowing she would commit suicide.

Mrs Treadwell died at Wellington's Rita Angus retirement village from pentobarbitone toxicity on June 7, 2016.

Ms Austen pleaded not guilty to aiding suicide and to three charges of importing a class C drug.

Pentobarbitone suppresses the nervous system and in New Zealand it can only be imported for vets to euthanise pets.

The court heard that Mrs Treadwell was not terminally ill but suffered from chronic pain, arthritis and depression.

She was a supporter of the groups, Exit International and End of Life Choice.

I'm so relieved and rejoicing that it's over - Susan Austen after being found not guilty of aiding suicide

Prior to the verdict, Justice Susan Thomas told the jury that they're required to reach unanimous verdicts.

Outside the Wellington High Court Ms Austen said she was relieved and rejoicing when she heard the verdict.

"I was almost in awe. I was shaking. And then I'm so relieved and rejoicing that it's over," she told reporters.

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

Australian euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke says the not guilty verdict on the charge of aiding suicide is "a fantastic result".

"I think it sends a very clear message that this has to be addressed," Dr Nitschke told reporters outside the High Court in Wellington.

"I mean the risks are high. You're looking at 12 years in a prison here for this business of assisting a suicide," he said.

"There needs to be a change to laws which try to say that anyone that gives this sort of information and allows a rational person to take that choice can find themselves sitting for two weeks going through this ordeal."

Dr Nitschke said when he sees Ms Austen his message to her would be "thank goodness for this, common sense has prevailed and the jury has done the right thing".

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 said charges of importing Pentobarbitone "are relatively trivial" but "the big one is assisting and that's what the jury has decided she's not guilty of".

Susan Austen has been remanded on bail and she'll be back in court for sentencing on the other charges in May.

The 67-year-old was found not guilty of assisting the suicide of her friend after giving her imported drug Pentobarbitone in 2016. Source: 1 NEWS



Little South Auckland town celebrating their own female pioneers

Next week will mark 125 years since women in New Zealand won the right to vote.

As the country prepares to mark the historic day, a little town south of Auckland is celebrating their own female pioneers.

The residents of Pukekohe say women’s suffrage is about the lasting inspiration it gave to those who followed.

Hundreds turned out today to show their appreciation and remembered those like the woman who started a female fitness club in 1913 or ran for president of the RSA.

Pukekohe's not the only town making big noise this year, a number of towns up and down the country are expected to hold events like this, ahead of next Wednesday's 125th celebration.

Hundreds will join Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Auckland’s Aotea Square for a sunrise salute to those who made the women’s vote and countless other everyday tasks possible.

Pukekohe turned out to celebrate their own as New Zealand gets set to mark 125 years since women’s suffrage. Source: 1 NEWS

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Police appeal for sightings after man found dead on Auckland road

A body has been found on an Auckland road after being hit by a vehicle, but police believe the man may have already been deceased before the incident.

Police car generic.
Police car generic. Source: 1 NEWS

Police were called to the scene on Popes Road, Takanini, at 7.20pm after reports that a pedestrian had been hit by a car.

Police say initial indications are that the man was already deceased on the road when hit by the driver who contacted emergency services.

Police are investigating and no further information is available at this time.

Anyone who saw a man wearing a red checkered shirt and jeans hitchhiking along Popes Road earlier this evening has been advised to contact Papakura Police on 09 295 0200.

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Boy, 4, found dead in sewage pond after going missing from West Coast farm

A four-year-old boy has been found dead in an effluent pond after going missing from a West Coast farm today.

Police received a report Reuben Nolan had disappeared from a farm in Hari Hari, West Coast, just before 1.30pm today.

Police, local volunteers, family, neighbours and friends joined the search for the boy, whose body was found in an effluent pond at 4pm.

Police would like to extend their condolences to the family for their loss.

Reuben's death will be referred to the Coroner, and his family is being assisted by Victim Support.

Police (file picture).
Police generic Source: 1 NEWS


Police searching for elderly woman with Alzheimers missing on Waiheke Island

Police and family are concerned for an elderly woman who has gone missing on Waiheke Island.

Sylvia Henley suffers from Alzheimers disease and may be confused.

Ms Henley has not been seen since this morning.

She may be wearing a light blue dressing gown and slippers.

Anyone who may have seen Ms Henley has been advised to call 111.

Source: NZ Police