Man pleads guilty to Burnie suicide aid

A “SUICIDE specialist” who helped a Burnie man take his own life has avoided jail time.

Charles Richard Parry, 61, of Pipers River, purchased material that 94-year-old Ralph Sutherland used to take his own life with on January 19.

Parry – a former associate of the Exit International euthanasia research foundation – was sought out by Mr Sutherland, who declared he wanted to die after the passing of his wife in 2014.

Mr Sutherland asked Parry for advice on the act and the pair eventually met to carry out Mr Sutherland’s plan.

After glasses of port together, and after receiving instructions, Parry provided “comfort and emotional support” to Mr Sutherland, who took his own life without assistance.

Parry was charged, however, because he purchased material used in the act.

Fairfax Tasmania has opted not to publish details of the suicide method.

In court on Thursday, Parry was described as a “recluse” who developed an interest in euthanasia after a serious car accident when he was younger.

He was described by his lawyer as someone who “believed he had a right to choose the time” of his own death.

Mr Sutherland shared a similar belief.

It was also heard that Mr Sutherland – who prepared a series of suicide notes prior to the incident and asked Parry to contact close friends – had attempted suicide once before.

He told Parry that if he would not help him he “had a plan B”.

Justice Robert Pearce took several hours to consider Parry’s sentence and called his beliefs “altruistic”.

Upon his return he told Parry that his crime was on the low end of the spectrum, explaining that the high end of the scale was assisting someone’s suicide in order to gain advantage from it.

“If the defendant had not (purchased material), he would not have been charged with any crime,” Justice Pearce said.

He expressed concern at Parry’s reputation for being a euthanasia enthusiast, but ruled there was not a need to deter the community in sentencing him.

“He did not take Mr Sutherland’s life,” Justice Pearce said.

“He did not act in deliberate defiance of the law.”

Justice Pearce determined a suspended jail term was appropriate.

Parry received a 12 month jail term, wholly suspended for two years.

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