Wellington woman denies charges of importing euthanasia drug, aiding suicide

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A retired Wellington teacher has denied helping another woman commit suicide.

Susan Austen entered a not guilty plea in the Wellington District Court today.
Source: 1 NEWS

Susan Austen, 66, is facing one charge of aiding Annemarie Treadwell to commit suicide and two of importing the class C drug pentobarbitone - a drug used in other countries for voluntary euthanasia.

Ms Austen, who is the former chairperson of the Wellington branch of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, appeared at Wellington District Court this morning where she entered not guilty pleas.

She has elected for a trial by jury.

The charge of aiding suicide carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

Before her death on June 6 last year, 77-year-old Annemarie Treadwell wrote a submission backing a petition in support of assisted dying.

She said she had been living with chronic pain, clinical depression, and short term memory loss and didn't want to be a burden to her children.

Ms Austen was arrested soon days after police staged a breath testing checkpoint to gather details about euthanasia supporters leaving an Exit International meeting at her house in Lower Hutt late last year.

The checkpoint is currently under investigation by the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

Supporters from the group, wearing pink hearts with "Suzy" written on them, packed the court room and stood outside with placards.

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