An Australian man has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for encouraging his wife’s suicide, in a case believed to have set a global precedent.
Graham Morant, 68, was convicted last month of counselling and aiding his wife, Jennifer Morant, to take her own life in 2014.
He had been motivated by a desire to access Mrs Morant’s life insurance benefits, a judge ruled.
As sole beneficiary, Morant had stood to receive A$1.4m (£770,000; $1m).
“You counselled your wife to kill herself because you wanted to get your hands on the A$1.4m,” Justice Peter Davis said in the Queensland Supreme Court on Friday.
Mrs Morant had suffered from chronic pain, depression and anxiety, but was not terminally ill.
Justice Davis said it appeared to be the first time globally that a person had been sentenced for counselling someone to die by suicide.
‘Took advantage of her vulnerability’
Morant had pleaded not guilty to the charges, but a jury found that Mrs Morant would not have ended her life without his counselling.
The 56-year-old woman was found dead alongside a petrol generator in her car on 30 November, 2014. Nearby, a note read: “Please don’t resuscitate me.”
Her husband had previously driven her to a hardware store to buy the generator, the jury was told.
Morant, a devout Christian, had told his wife that he planned to use the insurance money to build a religious commune, according to prosecutors.
On Friday, Justice Davis said Morant had shown no remorse for his offences.
“You took advantage of her vulnerability as a sick and depressed woman,” he said.
Morant received a maximum 10-year sentence for the charge of counselling suicide, and a six-year sentence for the charge of aiding suicide. The sentences will be served concurrently.
He will be eligible for parole in October 2023.