Man who convinced wife to kill herself gets 10 years in prison

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CANBERRA, Australia (CBS News) — A self-styled preacher who wanted to claim his wife’s life insurance was sentenced on Friday to 10 years in prison for persuading her to kill herself in what a judge described as an Australian-first conviction. Graham Morant, 69, was convicted by a Queensland state Supreme Court Jury in October on charges of counselling and aiding his wife Jennifer Morant to suicide at their Gold Coast city home in 2014.

BBC News reports the 56-year-old woman was found dead near a petrol generator in her car in November 2014. A note nearby read: “Please don’t resuscitate me.”

While people have been convicted before of helping someone to suicide, usually in mercy killings, Justice Peter Davis said no one had been convicted in Australia before of persuading someone who would not otherwise have taken his or her own life to suicide.

Each conviction carried a potential life prison sentence.

The judge sentenced Morant to a total of 10 years in prison on both convictions and ordered him to serve five years before he is eligible for parole.

Jennifer Morant was suffering from chronic back pain and depression when she took her life.

Davis rejected the husband’s claim that he had acted through compassion for his wife, finding the motivation was to collect 1.4 million Australian dollars ($1 million) from three life insurance policies. Prosecutors told the court the husband wanted to spend the insurance on building a religious commune.

“Mrs. Morant was a vulnerable person with difficulties with her physical health,” Davis said. “You took advantage of those vulnerabilities in order to persuade her to kill herself and then assisted her to do so once she had made that decision.”

Davis said Morant had shown no remorse for his actions and his wife had died in a lonely place.

Last year in the U.S., a Massachusetts woman was sentenced to 15 months in jail for using text messages to encourage her friend to commit suicide.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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