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Tassie man who aided death avoids jail

AAP logoAAP 22/09/2016 Andrew Drummond

A euthanasia advocate who aided the death of an elderly but healthy Tasmanian man has been convicted, even though the judge described him as intelligent and thoughtful.

It is a crime to help someone commit suicide and beekeeper Charles Richard Parry on Thursday pleaded guilty and was subsequently ordered to serve a 12-month suspended sentence for his role in the January death of 94-year-old Burnie man Ralph Sutherland.

Saddened by the 2014 death of his wife, Mr Sutherland made unsuccessful attempts to end his life before contacting former Exit International member Parry to ask for advice.

Parry, 62, helped by obtaining a gas bottle and later made full admissions to police of his involvement, Tasmanian Supreme Court Justice Robert Pearce said.

"It must be remembered that the defendant did not take Mr Sutherland's life. He died by his own hand albeit aided by the defendant," the judge said.

The pair had been strangers until two months before the death.

"Mr Sutherland was an intelligent man ... reached a voluntary, clear, settled and informed decision to commit suicide," Justice Pearce said.

"Given his long-expressed intention I would conclude that the defendant's willingness to provide support played no part in Mr Sutherland's decision."

The court found that Mr Sutherland had lived an independent life free from pain, suffering or terminal disease and further determined that Parry did not act in deliberate defiance of the law.

"His intention was limited to provision of company and emotional support," Justice Pearce said of Parry.

"He is an intelligent and thoughtful man."

The judge said it is not the role of the court to debate the appropriateness of the law.

"That is for the community and its elected representatives," he said.

"It is to be assumed that if there had been a legislative will to change the law then parliament would have done so."

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 and Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

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