Mercy killing woman pleads guilty
A WOMAN facing a manslaughter retrial in relation to her ailing partner taking a euthanasia drug has instead pleaded guilty to aiding or abetting suicide.
Shirley Justins, 62, has already served the 22-month periodic detention sentence imposed on her in November 2008.
A NSW Supreme Court jury had acquitted the Sydney woman of murder but found her guilty of the manslaughter, by gross criminal negligence, of former Qantas pilot Graeme Wylie, 71.
During the trial, she offered to plead guilty to aiding and abetting suicide in full discharge of the indictment, but the crown did not accept the plea.
Mr Wylie died from a lethal dose of the barbiturate Nembutal after Ms Justins placed an open bottle of the drug and a glass of water within his reach at his Cammeray home in 2006.
Months earlier, Mr Wylie, who had Alzheimer's disease, was rejected for a legally assisted suicide in Switzerland on the grounds he did not have the cognitive capacity to consent.
Last November, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal quashed the manslaughter conviction after the three judges found the trial judge erred in his directions to the jury.
Two of the three judges agreed a retrial should be ordered.
But on Friday in the NSW Supreme Court, Justins pleaded guilty to aiding or abetting suicide/attempted suicide of another.
The plea was accepted by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Justice Megan Latham adjourned the matter for sentencing to 6 May and dispensed with Ms Justins's bail.
Ms Justins's co-accused and long-time friend of Mr Wylie, Caren Jenning, 75, travelled to Mexico to buy the drug that killed him.
Ms Jenning, who was suffering terminal breast cancer, was convicted of being an accessary before the fact of manslaughter.
She killed herself using the same drug in October 2008.