10 Jul 2008

No jail for man convicted over mother's death

1:05 pm on 10 July 2008

A Taumaranui man convicted of attempting to kill his terminally ill mother will serve his sentence in the community.

Ian Crutchley gave an increased dose of morphine to Elsie Crutchley, 77, at her rest home as she lay dying of stomach cancer in February last year. She died a few hours later.

In the High Court at Hamilton on Wednesday, Crutchley was sentenced to six months' community detention, which includes a curfew, and 150 hours of community work.

The Crown claimed Crutchley's action was premeditated and deliberate, but defence lawyers told the court Crutchley was pushed into a corner and felt he had to act to stop his mother's suffering.

During sentencing, Justice Keane said Crutchlely, 50, did not act in a premeditated way, but out of panic.

The judge declined to discharge Crutchley without conviction and ruled out home detention. He told the court the jury's request for leniency at the conclusion of the trial was taken into account.

Crutchley says he is hugely relieved that he will not go to prison and plans to enjoy time with his family now that the ordeal is over.

His lawyer, Roger Laybourn, says Justice Keane's decision was well reasoned and showed compassion. He says the past 18 months has been torture for his client, and the family can finally grieve for their mother.

Euthanasia campaigner Lesley Martin says the sentence handed down reflects a change of attitude in the community. Ms Martin, who was convicted on the same offence and jailed, attended the sentencing in support of Crutchley.