NZ Euthanasia Champion Martin Given Light Sentence for Attempted Murder

Fri Apr 30, 2004 - 12:15 pm EST

WANGANUI, April 30, 2004 ( - Lesley Martin, New Zealand’s most notorious euthanasia advocate, has been handed a 15-month sentence for attempted murder of her terminally ill mother.

Martin, a leading advocate for legalizing euthanasia, wrote a book about her action, prompting police to re-open an investigation of the murder of her 69 year-old mother, Joy. Martin admitted in her book, To Die Like a Dog, to giving her mother an overdose of morphine and then smothering her with a pillow. Martin maintains that her mother asked to be killed.  The maximum sentence for attempted murder in New Zealand is 14 years. The trial has re-opened debate on the legalizing of euthanasia. Three people have been convicted and sentenced to jail terms of up to two years for killing their relatives. A bill which would have allowed doctor assisted suicide was narrowly defeated 60 to 58 last year in Parliament.

High Court Justice John Wild, despite believing that her motivation for killing her mother was based on compassion, condemned Martin for not exhibiting any remorse for her actions.

Crown prosecutor Andrew Cameron said the Crown felt sorry for Martin but could not neglect that human life has intrinsic value. “Sanctity of life underpins our law in the most fundamental way,” he said.

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