A Queensland woman who did not have a terminal illness took her life under pressure from her husband, who plotted to use her life insurance money to build a religious commune, a jury has found.
Graham Robert Morant, 69, told police his wife, Jennifer Morant, had a â€śzest and zeal to dieâ€ť. But on Tuesday he was found guilty by a Brisbane supreme court jury of aiding and counselling his wife to kill herself on the Gold Coast in November 2014. Morant was the sole beneficiary of his wifeâ€™s three life insurance policies totalling $1.4m.
Jennifer Morant lived with chronic back pain, and found even the most simple every day tasks difficult, but did not have a terminal illness.
Her husband persuaded her to take her life over several months by telling her the funds would go towards a commune that would provide a haven from the biblical rapture, where he would be pastor.
He told police she wanted to die but two witnesses close to her testified she did not want to kill herself and was scared by his pressure on her to do so.
â€śI had such a zest and zeal to live. She had such a zest and zeal to die,â€ť Graham Morant told police in an interview.
Her best friend, Johanna Cornelia Dent, said Jennifer Morant felt the only way to escape death was to win the lottery.
Graham Morant told his wife her suicide would not be a sin in Godâ€™s eyes because of the financial benefit to their church, her sister, Lynette Anne Lucas, told the jury. He said she would be too weak to survive the rapture, Lucas testified.
The jury deliberated for a day and a half before reaching its verdict on Tuesday. Members of the public gallery burst into tears after the verdict was handed down.
Morant was denied bail ahead of his sentencing on 19 October, despite Justice Peter Davis accepting he was a low risk to the public and had never breached his bail conditions.
â€śConsistent with the directions I gave the jury, the jury has concluded but for the counselling Ms Morant would not have ended her life,â€ť Davis said. â€śThe offences are serious.â€ť
The juryâ€™s verdict showed Morant intended for his wife to take her life, Davis said. He said a jail sentence was â€śinevitableâ€ť but indicated he might wholly or partially suspend the sentence based on the strength of submissions.