The trial of Professor Sean Davison for the attempted murder of his terminally ill 85-year-old mother concluded abruptly in the Dunedin high court in New Zealand on November 3rd 2011 when Sean accepted a plea bargain whereby he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of the assisted suicide of his mother.
Sean with his mother Patricia shortly before she began her hunger strike.
According to the interpretation of existing law the actions of assisting a suicide can be defined as attempted murder. If Sean had not accepted the plea bargain he ran the risk of the jury finding him guilty of attempted murder since the judge would instruct them to follow the definition of the law and make their decision without bringing sympathy into their deliberations.
Following Sean’s guilty plea the judge convicted him of assisted suicide and sentenced him to 5 months house arrest in New Zealand. He now has a criminal record for an act of compassion in answering the desperate pleas of his dying mother.
Sean’s trial generated media publicity around the world and has become a challenge to humanity to consider the issues around voluntary euthanasia.
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- Euthanasia – IS DYING A CHOICE?
- There is dignity in being allowed to ‘die like a dog’
Friends and supporters with Sean outside the high court during his trial in NZ.
House Arrest: Update from Sean Davison
Sean Davison has passed the half mark of his five month house arrest sentence this week. He is now living in a new location following a brick attack on his previous house. A brick was thrown through the living room window late at night with a threatening letter attached. This followed a similar threat received by post. Both death threats were made up of words cut out of a magazine to form new words and contained biblical overtones.
The threatening letters gave the impression that the person was religious. However Sean told the Otago Daily Times that he did not believe for a moment that this incident was carried out by a Christian and that it was a very unchristian and cowardly thing to do. Through the newspaper he invited the person who did it to join him for a cup of tea to discuss his or her concerns.
Free at Last!
Sean Davison became a free man again yesterday (April 23rd), and the first thing he did was walk in the surf at Dunedin’s St Clair beach.
“I didn’t sleep a wink all night, I was so excited. I was like a kid waiting for a Christmas stocking. They came around at 10am and cut my home detention bracelet off. You can see a bit of a scar where it was,” he said, showing his left ankle.
The South Africa-based scientist was convicted in October of aiding the death of his 85-year-old terminally-ill mother, Dunedin doctor Patricia Davison, in 2006 after a trial which ignited debate on voluntary euthanasia in New Zealand and South Africa. He pleaded guilty to a charge that he “counselled and procured” his mother to commit suicide and was sentenced to five months’ home detention.
“I have no regrets about what I did to assist my mother to her death, because I did nothing wrong,” he said. “I’ve done my sentence, but I committed no crime. “In the same set of circumstances, I’d do exactly the same thing again. “Although, I’d rather change the law, so nobody else has to go through what I have. “I’m not bitter. But I think it’s very sad that the law finds me a criminal for an act of compassion.”
Prof. Davison’s partner, Raine, and children, Flynn (3) and Finnian (2), have been awaiting his return to Cape Town since he was sentenced in the High Court at Dunedin on October 27 last year. “They are the people who have been hurt most by this, because my children have had no father for seven months. It has been a terrible toll on my family back home. For me, every day was just the same.”
The case became an international cause celebre. Prof. Davison founded DignitySA in South Africa, which will launch a national petition to reform euthanasia laws when he arrives home on Sunday. “I’m going to arrive back to a press conference at the Cape Town airport. South Africa has been fascinated by my case and conviction here. In South Africa, it’s seen as a global issue.”
Prof. Davison will address a public forum on euthanasia and assisted suicide from 5.15pm to 7.30pm on Thursday (April 26th) at the Colquhoun lecture theatre in Dunedin Public Hospital. Other speakers will include Nelson MP Maryan Street, University of Otago Centre for Bioethics professor Grant Gillett and New Zealand Catholic Bioethics Centre director John Kleinsman.
No more Tears
Sean Davison is reunited with his partner Raine Pan and two sons, Flynn, three and Finnian, who turns two today, at Cape Town International Airport yesterday after being released from a five-month house arrest sentence in New Zealand for helping his mother die with dignity.
‘No more Tears’
‘Cape Times’ on May 3rd 2012 at 09:50am – by Michelle Jones
SEAN DAVISON walked through the gates at international arrivals, bent to scoop up one of his young sons before kissing his partner Raine Pan.
“No more tears”, said Davison.
Davison, the UWC professor who helped his terminally ill mother die, returned home yesterday after serving five months’ home detention in his native New Zealand.
Pan and the couple’s young sons, Flynn, three, and Finnian, who turns two today, waited for Davison at Cape Town International Airport with a bouquet of brightly coloured flowers and cheery “welcome home” balloons.
With a large media contingent behind them, the family watched the Singapore Airlines aircraft carrying Davison taxi towards the terminal. After the family’s reunion at the gates, Davison addressed the media.
“I’m thrilled to be back, obviously. Now I’m a free man. “I was always free in my heart. I did my sentence, but I did not commit a crime.”
Yesterday marked the launch of a petition by DignitySA, a pro-euthanasia organisation of which he is an executive member, which calls for a bill to be brought before Parliament to legalise assisted suicide in defined conditions.
“I will continue to campaign for a law change. I believe there is a lot of support in SA – let’s find it. My case has linked SA to New Zealand and I hope if one country changes its laws, the other will follow.”
Davison said he looked forward to thanking Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu – who wrote a letter as a character reference – in person for his assistance in sparing him from serving jail time. He said he had spoken to UWC vice-chancellor and rector Brian O’Connell yesterday while on the plane. “He reaffirmed that UWC will be leading the discussions on this debate.”
Davison said it was his family who suffered the most during his absence. “While my life didn’t change from one day to the next, she was faced with new and difficult challenges each day. It was very unfair.”
Pan said she looked forward to spending time with Davison and continuing their lives.
Davison went on trial in November last year after being arrested in New Zealand in September 2010 on an attempted murder charge. In a leaked book manuscript, he admitted to giving his mother Patricia Ferguson, 85, a lethal dose of morphine. Davison was cleared of attempted murder after agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser charge.
Sean Davison finally arrives home.