Graham Morant had pleaded not guilty to the charges of counselling and aiding suicide. (AAP: Dan Peled)
A Queensland man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for encouraging and helping his wife to kill herself, so he could access her $1.4 million life insurance.
- Graham Morant was the sole beneficiary of his wife’s three life insurance policies, worth $1.4 million
- The sentence for the charge of counselling someone to suicide sets a national and international precedent
- Morant planned to use the money to build a religious commune as a haven from the biblical rapture
Graham Robert Morant was last month found guilty on two charges — counselling suicide and aiding suicide — for persuading his wife Jennifer Morant, 56, to kill herself in her car in 2014 and helping her buy the necessary equipment from a hardware store.
The court heard Morant was the sole beneficiary of Ms Morant’s three life insurance policies, which Justice Peter Davis concluded was the motivation for his actions.
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Ms Morant, who suffered from chronic back pain, depression and anxiety, was found with a note saying “please don’t resuscitate me”.
“You took advantage of her vulnerability as a sick and depressed woman,” Justice Davis said during sentencing.
“You counselled your wife to kill herself because you wanted to get your hands on the $1.4 million.”
With the money, Morant planned to build a religious commune with bunkers in the Gold Coast hinterland as a haven from the biblical rapture.
Justice Davis said it was obvious that as of 2014 Morant was not a wealthy person, had a small amount of money, no superannuation, and credit card debts.
“Your general financial position was such that $1.4 million was a very significant sum as it would be to most people,” he said.
“You have not shown any remorse for the offences you have committed.
“You did not plead guilty and you did not cooperate with the administration of justice.”
Justice Davis said there had been no conviction in Queensland for the counselling suicide charge and research had also failed to find a conviction for a similar offence in another jurisdiction.
Ms Morant’s family cried as the court sentenced Morant to 10 years in jail for the counselling charge, and six years for the charge of aiding suicide.
One of Jennifer’s closest friends, Judy Dent, spoke outside court saying the sentence was upsetting.
Jennifer Morant’s friend Judy Dent says there are no winners from the outcome. (ABC News: Melanie Vujkovic)
“I don’t think there’s any winners in this situation and it’s been a long four years,” Ms Dent said.
“She was very bubbly, very full-on, very engaging … she made friends everywhere she went and she was just a wonderful person.”
During sentencing the court heard Ms Morant felt the only way to escape her inevitable death was to win the lottery.
“She was [desperate] … she thought it was her only way out,” Ms Dent said.
Mrs Morant’s sister Lynette Lucas said they tried to do everything to help her.
“Unfortunately we feel that we might’ve failed her a little bit but this is at least some sort of closure for her and some sort of peace,” Ms Lucas said.
“It’s been hard for me, Jenny’s mum passed away two years ago, she just didn’t know what was going on and she’ll never know.
“[Family and friends] might all understand now what Jenny went through.
“I don’t think anyone could be happy that it all had to come to this.”
Morant will be eligible to apply for parole on October 23, 2023.
Karyn Walsh from the support group Micah Projects, which helps victims of domestic violence, said psychological abuse and control was a big problem.
While unable to talk about the specific case, Ms Walsh said the issue went hand in hand with other forms of abuse.
“It is the control of someone’s freedom and liberty of choices and it is integral to most circumstances of domestic violence,” Ms Walsh said.