Euthanasia advocate charged with assisting suicide

9:35 pm on 21 April 2017

A euthanasia advocate could face 14 years' jail after today being charged with assisting someone's suicide, in addition to two previous charges.

Wellington District Court.

Wellington District Court Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Susan Austen, 66, was today accused of helping 77-year-old Annemarie Treadwell commit suicide between December 2015 and June 2016.

In October she was charged with two counts of importing the sedative narcotic pentobarbitane, also known as Nembutol, which is a class C drug.

Speaking in the Wellington District Court today, her lawyer, Dr Donald Stevens QC, requested the charges be adjourned until 12 May, when she would enter a plea to all three.

She was remanded on bail until then.

Ms Austen is the former chairperson of the Wellington branch of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.

The case arose after the police used a breath-testing checkpoint to target voluntary euthanasia supporters as they left an Exit International meeting in Lower Hutt in late October 2016.

The legality of the checkpoint was being investigated by the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

Assisting suicide carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.