27 Oct 2011

Accused 'admitted he helped his mother die'

7:30 pm on 27 October 2011

A journalist has told a euthanasia trial in Dunedin how the accused admitted to her he helped his mother die.

After writing about her death in a book, Sean Davison is on trial at the High Court for the attempted murder of his terminally ill mother, Patricia Davison, in 2006.

Nicola Shepheard, who was a journalist with the Herald on Sunday newspaper at the time, told the jury she wrote an article about Professor Davison's confession after receiving an early manuscript of his book anonymously in the post.

That draft contained his account of giving crushed morphine tablets in a glass to his mother as she had often demanded - details removed from the book's published version.

Ms Shepheard says she called Professor Davison several times and met with him to verify that the draft was genuine.

An interview with him that she taped at the time was played to the court, and in it he says he is surprised she got a copy. He adds however that he recognised there was a possibility of copies getting out, as several were in the hands of friends, family and even lawyers.

Professor Davison also confirms in the recording that the draft manuscript is genuine.

Brother recalls what he was told

Earlier on Thursday, Professor Davison's eldest brother, Fergus Davison, told the court Professor Davison had told him he caused their mother's death.

Giving evidence by video link from London, Mr Davison said his brother rang him on the morning their mother died to say he had helped hasten her death by giving her too much morphine.

Mr Davision said he was consequently not surprised when he read that in a draft manuscript his brother sent him.

He told the court Mrs Davison wanted her life to be ended and, had she not wanted that, still had the strength to refuse to drink the glass with the morphine in it.

A close friend of the accused, Ian Landreth, appeared as a witness and confirmed the same details.