Boatbuilder accused of helping wife die

By Edward Gay, Jared Savage

An Auckland man accused of helping his terminally ill wife commit suicide has made a brief appearance in court.

Evans Mott, a master boatbuilder who has worked on superyachts around the world, appeared at the Auckland District Court today charged with aiding and abetting suicide.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

The 61-year-old's lawyer Ron Mansfield told the court the case will be reviewed next month.

Mr Mott's wife, Rosemary, was diagnosed several years ago with an aggressive form of multiple sclerosis, a degenerative condition for which there is no cure.

The 55-year-old's health deteriorated rapidly and her husband, Evans Mott, is alleged to have agreed to help research suicide methods and assemble a kit which she could use to kill herself.

Mrs Mott waited until the birth of a grandchild late last year and spent a final Christmas with her family before making the decision to end her life.

She asked her husband to leave her alone in their Auckland home, and he returned several hours later to find her dead.

Mrs Mott's health began deteriorating in August 2007 when she tripped over and broke her shoulder. The fracture took 18 months to heal, because she had undiagnosed osteoporosis.

Even once she was healed, the pain continued. This was diagnosed as neuropathic pain, a condition where the body's nerves keep sending pain signals to the brain although the injury is healed.

An MRI scan finally confirmed Mrs Mott was suffering from multiple sclerosis, where the body's immune system attacks the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. The degenerative condition is irreversible and affects the ability of the brain to send signals to the body.

Mrs Mott was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form which caused her physical abilities to deteriorate rapidly.

Drug treatment to alleviate the pain and slow the symptoms failed and had distressing side-effects.

Mr Mansfield previously told the New Zealand Herald that this was a story of "genuine love and grief".

"It is truly unfortunate that in our modern society we force people to be isolated in these circumstances and then expose their loving and grieving family to the indignity of being dragged before our criminal courts in this way.

"He has been honest to the police with what he has and has not done. The question is, is that a crime in this case? No matter the answer to this question, one can only hope that cases like this may cause our society to review what we think is right and what we think is wrong."

- APNZ

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