11 Aug 2010

Man who killed tetraplegic may appeal 14 year sentence

8:03 pm on 11 August 2010

The lawyer for a Christchurch man jailed for at least 14 years for slitting his tetraplegic friend's throat says her client may appeal against the sentence.

Eric Smail admitted the manslaughter in 2005 of Keith McCormick, a Paralympian, but in June a jury found him guilty of murder.

His lawyer, Judith Ablett-Kerr, argued there were elements of a mercy killing, saying Smail believed he was putting his friend out of his misery.

In addition, the defence said, Smail couldn't cope with being a full-time carer because of his alcoholism and depression, and snapped.

In sentencing Smail to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 14 years, Justice Chisholm said there was a degree of premeditation to the killing and Smail had used a weapon to cause extreme harm.

Keith McCormick's mother, Dorothy McCormick, who is 84, says it is wonderful her son's carer and killer has finally been sent to jail and her son did not want to die.

She says she misses her son dearly and Smail has ruined the last years of her life.