Travel plans in jeopardy after euthanasia advocate decides against appeal



ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF

Suzy Austen’s mother was an active, vibrant woman who, in the end, was barely a person. She had dementia for thirteen years and finally closed her eyes for the last two and a half.

Euthanasia campaigner Susan Austen will go though life a criminal after abandoning all hopes of appeal.

Her conviction means plans of returning to New York and travelling up the Canadian coast to the Arctic circle, as planned with her husband, are now in jeopardy.

While she understood her conviction was at the lower-end of the scale, she said travelling to United States or Canada “could be difficult” due to entry restrictions with a criminal record. 

Austen, 67, who was sentenced on two charges of importing the drug pentobarbitone on Friday, decided on Sunday to not appeal the sentence. She was fined $7500 at the High Court in Wellington.

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Appealing the sentence could have left her with a discharge without conviction, making travel easier but, after talking to lawyers, she let the sentence stand.

“I believe we have been through enough,” she said.

“[It’s time] put everything behind us and move onwards and upwards.” 

Suzy Austen, mother, campaigner, teacher, wife, volunteer, and now criminal.

ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF

Suzy Austen, mother, campaigner, teacher, wife, volunteer, and now criminal.

Sean Davison, a New Zealander, convicted of assisting the suicide of his cancer-ravaged mother and sentenced to five months home detention in 2012, is now president of the World Federation of right-to-die societies.

From his home in South Africa, he said he had invited Austen to the group’s biennial conference in Cape Town in September. 

“She accepted subject to the outcome of her sentencing (which could have been imprisonment). I will now be making arrangements for Suzy Austen to be given the opportunity to address the conference about her experiences.”

Austen on Sunday said she was talking to her travel agent to see if she would be able to get into South Africa to attend with her new conviction.

Voluntary Euthanasia Society president Maryan Street outside Wellington District Court after Susan Austen's not guilty ...

MONIQUE FORD/STUFF

Voluntary Euthanasia Society president Maryan Street outside Wellington District Court after Susan Austen’s not guilty plea. Street believes Austen was singled out.

In February, a jury found her not guilty of aiding the suicide of euthanasia supporter Annemarie Treadwell, 77, and not guilty of repeatedly importing pentobarbitone. However, Austen was deemed guilty of two specific importations.

Austen organised one package to be sent to New Zealand from China after Treadwell’s own importation was intercepted. Treadwell died from pentobarbitone soon after.

The other import Austen brought in herself after a holiday in Hong Kong, the drug packed in with a fascinator headpiece in her luggage.

Suzy Austen, euthanasia campaigner, now has a criminal record.

ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF

Suzy Austen, euthanasia campaigner, now has a criminal record.

Voluntary Euthanasia Society president Maryan Street said 59 people were caught importing pentobarbitone to New Zealand over the last few years and were not prosecuted.

“In fact not even five of them received warnings. This was evidence put forward by her defence lawyer.

“Suzy has been singled out and exposed because of Annemarie Treadwell’s death.”


 – Stuff



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