Loading...
Queensland Judgments

beta

Authorised Reports & Unreported Judgments
Exit Distraction Free Reading Mode
R v Morant  
Unreported Citation: [2018] QSC 222
EDITOR'S NOTE

In this decision, Davis J considered the appropriate directions to be given to the jury in relation to issues which arose in the trial of two alleged contraventions of s 311 of the Criminal Code (namely, counselling suicide and aiding suicide). The issues concerned the state of mind of the accused and the deceased necessary for the charges to be proved. His Honour also made general observations about s 311 and its relationship with s 7 of the Code.

Davis J

5 October 2018

Background

Graham Morant (“Mr Morant”) and Jennifer Morant (“Mrs Morant”) were married in about 2000, and lived together until Mrs Morant died on 30 November 2014. [3]. Mrs Morant died of carbon monoxide poisoning suffered by her in her car. [4]. A petrol engine powered generator was positioned in the boot of the car. [4].

Mr Morant was tried in the Supreme Court on an indictment charging him with two contraventions of s 311 of the Criminal Code. [1]. That section provides:

“Any person who—

(a)           procures another to kill himself or herself; or

(b)           counsels another to kill himself or herself and thereby induces the other person to do so; or

(c)           aids another in killing himself or herself;

is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment for life.”

The two counts which Mr Morant faced were of counselling suicide and aiding suicide. [6].

Issues

During the trial issues arose as to the appropriate directions to the jury on the state of mind of Mr Morant and Mrs Morant necessary for the charges to be proved. [1]. The issues were:

“1.   What must an accused actually know of the deceased’s intention?

2.    What is the necessary temporal connection between the acts of aiding or counselling, the formation by the deceased of the intention to kill himself or herself, and the point at which an accused must hold the necessary knowledge?” [27].

In the present decision, Davis J gave his reasons for the directions he made. [2].

Counselling suicide

His Honour noted that the mental element of counselling or procuring suicide is different from that of aiding suicide. [36]. While the purpose of counselling and procuring is to cause the person to form the intention to kill himself or herself and to carry out that intention, the purpose of aiding suicide is to assist the person to carry out the intention. [36].

His Honour also noted that s 311(b) requires that the counselling “induced the other person” to kill himself or herself. [37]. His Honour held that, for the offence to be made out, it must be established that the decision of the deceased person to end their life would not have been made but for the counselling. [37].

Accordingly, the jury was directed in the following terms:

“The Crown must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

(i)    The accused intended, when he counselled the deceased, that the counselling would persuade her to kill herself.

(ii)    But for the counselling, the deceased would not have killed herself, by using the generator to cause her death by carbon monoxide poisoning on 30 November 2014.” [38].

Aiding suicide

With respect to the mental element of aiding suicide, his Honour held that “[i]f what is contemplated is a specific and well-identified offence and the aider gives assistance to that specific end, knowing that the actor may (or may not) commit the offence, then the aider has surely aided by performing acts ‘intentionally aimed at the commission of the acts which constitute [the offence]’”. [47]. His Honour also held:

“If Mr Morant here contemplated a particular act by Mrs Morant, namely gassing herself using the generator with the intention to kill herself, and he aided her with the intention that his acts would assist her to intentionally end her life by gassing, then he would be guilty of aiding her suicide even if her intention to end her life by gassing arose some time after the aiding and even if he thought, when he assisted, that the suicide was not a certainty.” [50].

Accordingly, the jury was directed in the following terms:

“The Crown must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

(i)    When the acts of aiding were done, the accused knew that the deceased would or may kill herself by using the generator to cause her death by carbon monoxide poisoning; and

(ii)    The accused intended that the acts of aiding would assist or help the deceased to kill herself by carbon monoxide poisoning.” [51].

M J Hafeez-Baig