3 Nov 2011

Any humane person would've done same - Davison

7:11 am on 3 November 2011

A man who pleaded guilty to assisting his terminally-ill mother's suicide says any humane person would have done the same thing.

Sean Davison, 50, a forensics expert based in South Africa, has been on trial in the High Court in Dunedin for attempted murder.

Following closed-session legal debate on Tuesday, the Crown unexpectedly withdrew the charge of attempted murder against Davison on Wednesday morning.

The charge was replaced with one of inciting and procuring his mother's suicide.

Davison struggled to say the word guilty and could hardly be heard as he did so.

Davison says his supporters say it is a victory, but he feels only sadness for his family and the memory of his mother.

He says he did the compassionate thing and that any humane person would have done the same thing.

Davison says he finds it hard to accept he is a criminal, and is asking how a civilised society could allow it to happen.

During the trial the jury heard three days of evidence that he gave in to his mother's wishes, giving her a glass of crushed morphine tablets, then wrote about the experience in a book.

He will be formally convicted and sentenced on 24 November and faces a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

However, Justice French gave an indication Davison might not go to prison when she called for an urgent report on the possibility of electronic monitoring.

Davison has been granted bail but is not allowed to leave the country.

Case should 'never have gone to trial'

Supporters of Davison say his case should never have gone to court.

Outside court a dozen supporters claimed victory and displayed tee-shirts bearing the slogan "Every Mum Needs a Sean".

They say he should never have been put in the position of having to assist Patricia Davison's suicide, and the case should never have gone to trial.

A long-time friend of Davison, Ian Landreth, says he believes Mrs Davison should have agreed to go to a hospice rather than asking her son to help her die.

He says he believes she acted selfishly, but his friend did the right thing.

Mr Landreth says he would have done the same thing Davison did and the law should be changed to make euthanasia legal.

Mr Landreth, a Crown witness, spoke to Mrs Davison about her illness three days before she died.

No jail - lawyer

Davison's lawyer Roger Laybourn says his client shouldn't go to prison.

He says Davison is a principled man who did the best he could to care for his mother.

Mr Laybourn says he doesn't blame the Crown or police for the situation because they are constrained by the law.