Right to Die

Mercy killer will speak in Kāpiti

By Alan Tristram

South African Professor Sean Davison, who helped his terminally ill mother to die quickly, is coming to Paraparaumu for a public meeting on euthanasia.

Last November the High Court in Dunedin sentenced him to five months’ home detention, so this will be one of his first public appearances since the trial.

He faced up to 14 years in jail for murder for the mercy killing when he went on trial. But prosecutors downgraded the charge to ‘counselling and procuring suicide’ when he agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge.The local branch of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society says Professor Davison will speak about his experience as the ‘loving son’ of a mother dying from cancer.

Convicted for ‘act of mercy’

It adds: ”He was convicted as a criminal in our Courts, for his act of mercy.”

The Society also quotes his explanation: “I have told the truth and pleaded guilty of the assisted suicide of my mother, something I am not ashamed of – I have done my sentence but I’ve committed no crime.” 

The meeting will be held in the Senior Citizens’ Centre at Paraparaumu Beach at 2pm on Saturday, 28th April.

Professor Davison, a forensic specialist at the University of the Western Cape, was sentenced for helping his terminally ill mother to die in an act the judge said was motivated by ‘compassion and love rather than personal gain.‘

Offence at ‘lower end of the scale’

Judge Christine French said the 50-year-old academic knew he was committing a crime in helping his mother die in October 2006, but that the offence was “at the lower end of the scale”.

The Professor said recently: “My trial, conviction and sentencing achieved nothing. They were a complete waste of time and money and have made a criminal out of a noncriminal.

“I have no regrets about what I did to assist my mother to her death.

“I haven’t changed my point of view that the law should be changed to allow for assisted dying.”

Story begins in 2006

The story began in 2006 when Mr Davison’s mother, Dr Patricia Ferguson, was dying of cancer In Dunedin and he

took leave from his university post in South Africa to come home to support her in her last days.

His moving diary record of those three months”It’s Time to say Goodbye,” tells the story – especially over that last month

when his mother, longing for the end, refused all food and lingered out her life.

Her GP gave her morphine but the law did not allow anyone to help her to die. However, Professor Davison, acting on his conscience, took action  to help her die quickly.

Opportunity at meeting to learn more

The Kāpiti/Horowhenua branch of the Euthanasia Society says: “There will also be an opportunity for all concerned to find out about the 2012 programme of the Society and in particular, about the promotion of a Private Member’s Bill to Parliament.

“This is the initiative of the Hon Maryan Street. It will focus on the right of every New Zealander, 18 years of age and over,and also of permanent residents, in circumstances of “terminable disease” and/or “irreversible physical or mental medical

condition that renders life unbearable” to be entitled to, on request, medical assistance in dying.

“These are changes in the law which are sought together with the right to register an End-of-Life Directive which covers “deteriorating mental condition” and the right for medically assisted death.”









I have read Professor Davison’s Book, “Before we say goodbye”. I found it a very honest
account of a very long battle of one woman to die without incrimanating her son who
stood by her through a very long ordeal, 33 days, to try and die, but in the end asked her
son for help. Last year my sister in Switzerland did exactly what Dr Patrician Feguson
wished for, the right to die with dignity. The way the law there allowes people to choose to do this
in Switzerland is “it can only happen if the person who wants to die is capable to inject or drink the lethal dose herself,” and only after extensive involvment of Doctors and after the
police is informed. The important thing is no one else can make that decision. I do hope New Zealand will
allow people to make this decision for themselves in a proper and legal way.