Graham Morant, jailed for 10 years for counselling and aiding his wife Jenny Morant to kill herself, has lost an appeal against his convictions and sentence.
Graham Morant, jailed for 10 years for counselling and aiding his wife Jenny Morant to kill herself, has lost an appeal against his convictions and sentence.

Born-again Christian fails in appeal over wife's death

A MAN who is serving a 10 year jail sentence for counselling and aiding his wife to kill herself will remain in jail after losing appeals against his convictions and sentence.

A jury in October, 2018, found Graham Robert Morant, then 69, guilty of counselling Jennifer Morant, his wife of 14 years, to kill herself and of aiding her to commit suicide in 2014.

It was the first conviction in the world for counselling suicide.

Jenny Morant, 56, who suffered from chronic back pain but did not have a terminal illness, was found dead in her car at Wongawallan, Mount Tamborine, on November 30, 2014.

Graham Morant will remain behind bars after failing to overturn his conviction and sentence for counselling and aiding his wife to kill herself. Picture: Darren England
Graham Morant will remain behind bars after failing to overturn his conviction and sentence for counselling and aiding his wife to kill herself. Picture: Darren England

The Crown case was that Morant had aided his wife's suicide by driving her to a hardware store and helping her load a generator that she used to kill herself.

Morant, 71, a born-again Christian builder, will spend at least five years behind bars, as he will not be eligible to apply for parole until October, 2023.

Court of Appeal president, Justice Walter Sofronoff, Justice Debra Mullins and Justice David Boddice unanimously dismissed his appeals.

Morant had asked the appeal court to consider fresh evidence from euthanasia group, Exit International.

It was only after Morant's trial that his lawyers became aware of emails between Mrs Morant and Exit International, founded by euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke.

The appeal court heard in one of the letters to Exit in May, 2014 - six months before she died - Ms Morant allegedly wrote that she desperately needed the help of the organisation to end her life "in a peaceful manner".

She said she had been in chronic pain for the last three years, with spinal surgery not giving her any relief.

Ms Morant also allegedly wrote to the organisation after a failed suicide attempt in September saying that she had "discussed (this) with my husband but he is too upset to help me".

Mrs Morant, 56, was found dead in her car in November, 2014.

The Crown case was that Morant counselled his wife to commit suicide, between February and November, 2014.

Counsel for Morant said the emails to Exit were evidence of an interest in the mind of the deceased in taking her own life.

Justice Boddice said the jury verdict was not unreasonable and the sentences were not manifestly excessive.

Jenny Morant was 56 when she took her own life.
Jenny Morant was 56 when she took her own life.

He said there was not a significant possibility that the jury would have acquitted Morant if the emails had been before it at the trial.

Justice Sofronoff said there was ample evidence from Morant's own mouth to demonstrate that his intention in doing the acts charged was to help Mrs Morant in killing herself.

Justice Sofronoff said the evidence of the emails from Mrs Morant to Dr Nitschke could not have helped his case.

He said they would instead have reinforced Mrs Morant's vulnerability to her husband's inducements.

Justice Sofronoff said the case exhibited the "wickedness" of the offence of counselling and thereby inducing a victim to kill herself.

"His actions were premeditated, calculated and were done for financial gain," Justice Sofronoff said.

Morant was entirely to blame for his premeditated criminal acts, the judge said.

"In my opinion, the sentences were not only not manifestly excessive, they were manifestly not excessive," Justice Sofronoff said.

Other appeal grounds, which were rejected, related to the way Justice Davis directed the jury and summed up the evidence.

Sentencing Morant, Justice Peter Davis found he was motivated by money in counselling and aiding his wife to commit suicide.

Morant was sole beneficiary of life insurance policies worth $1.4 million.

"You convinced Mrs Morant that she should kill herself," Justice Thomas told Morant.

"In doing so, you took advantage of her vulnerability as a sick and depressed woman."

 

Jenny Morant’s sister Lynette Lucas gave evidence at the trial of Graham Morant. Picture: Liam Kidston
Jenny Morant’s sister Lynette Lucas gave evidence at the trial of Graham Morant. Picture: Liam Kidston

He said Morant made statements to his wife that caused her to take her own life, motivated by the prospect of financial gain.

You have not shown any remorse for the offences you have committed," Justice Davis said.

Mrs Morant's sister, Lynette Lucas, told the Supreme Court that Jenny told her that Graham wanted her to kill herself so he could get $1.4 million from her life insurance.

She said Jenny told her she feared for her life.

After coming home from church on November 30, 2014, to find a note from his wife, Morant called triple-0, telling the operator it looked like she had gone off to "do herself harm''.

The day before, Morant had driven his wife to a hardware store and helped her load a petrol generator that she used the next day to kill herself.

Morant at first denied knowing about the generator his wife used, but later admitted to police Jenny told him she was going to use a generator to kill herself, before she bought it.

He said when he went to church the next day, leaving his wife at home, with the generator in her car, there was an "off chance'' of her killing herself.

Morant said his wife had "a zest and zeal to die''.

Mrs Lucas said Jenny told her Graham wanted to buy a property with the insurance money, as a safe commune "for when the raptures and Armageddon came".

*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636. The Suicide Call Back service is on Call 1300 659 467.
 

Originally published as Born-again Christian's appeal of world-first suicide conviction fails


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