Justice Joseph Williams recently convicted a young woman and sentenced her ‘to live’ rather than a jail term. His decision in the case, a sad saga of a suicide pact in which one of two parties (the young woman) survived, is prefaced by:
“This is a sentencing to test the wisest and most experienced Judge. Unfortunately you have me.”
“You must leave this place and live.”
” … It is nonetheless my role to declare on behalf of the community that human life is sacrosanct, and that New Zealanders must not engage in this terrible activity.
There are choices – better choices – as you indicated to KP on the night. This may sound like a cliche but it is true nonetheless. No matter how dark the night becomes, it is never endless. Dawn will always break. And with the dawn comes hope. We can have faith and trust that this is so.
Bearing these factors in mind, I consider a conviction is sufficient to affirm our belief in hope and life. I do not consider that punishment beyond that will serve any purpose whatever. CE, now that I have met you today, I see that you are a beautiful young woman, both inside and out. You must leave this place and live. Please.”
Legislation on Suicide
Prior to 1961 it was a crime to commit suicide. Your life was not yours to take regardless of whatever circumstances you found yourself in. Botching suicide resulted in an appearance in court.
That was amended to it being a crime to aid, incite, counsel, procure or abet someone commit suicide . Or to make a pact to commit suicide and despite your intentions, survive while your pact partner(s) die.
(Crimes Act 1961 No 43 (as at 13 July 2011), Public Act, Part 8 Crimes against the person)
To read either the case summary or judgment text login into your BriefCase account on Brookers Online. The case reference is R V CE HC Palmerston North CRI-2011-054-776, 26 October 2011
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