Man Jailed for Encouraging Wife's Suicide in Case Setting Global Precedent

An Australian man has been found guilty of encouraging his wife's suicide, in a globally precedent-setting case.

Graham Morant, 69, was sentenced to 10 years behind bars for counselling and aiding his wife, Jennifer Morant, 56, to take her own life in 2014, The Guardian reported.

A judge on Queensland's Supreme Court ruled Friday that Morant encouraged his wife to end her life so he could access her life insurance benefits, totalling around $1 million. Justice Peter Davis said in court it was thought to be the first time that anyone had been sentenced specifically for encouraging someone else to die by suicide.

"You had an acute awareness that upon Mrs Morant's death you would benefit from a payout from the insurance policies," Davis told Morant in court. "You counselled your wife to kill herself because you wanted to get your hands on the A$1.4m."

Though Morant pleaded not guilty to the charges, the jury decided that Jennifer would not have killed herself without her husband's encouragement. She had been suffering from chronic back pain, depression and anxiety but did not have a terminal illness.

She was found dead in November 2014, alongside a petrol generator in her car. A nearby note urged responders, "Please don't resuscitate me."

The court heard that Morant drove his wife to a hardware store so she could buy the generator she would use to end her life. A devout Christian, investigators said Morant told his wife he planned to use the insurance windfall to built a religious commune.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the planned compound would include bunkers to ride out the religious rapture Morant believed was imminent. Morant also reportedly assured his wife she would not be committing a sin by taking her own life because it would benefit himself and the church.

"Mrs Morant was a vulnerable person with difficulties with her physical health. She was suffering depression," Davis told Morant. "You took advantage of her vulnerability as a sick and depressed woman," he added, noting that Morant had failed to show any remorse for his actions.

Morant was handed a 10-year sentence for the charge of counselling suicide and a six-year sentence for the charge of aiding suicide, both sentences to be served concurrently. He will be able to apply for parole in October 2023.