Euthanasia campaigner: 'I have no regrets'

By Nigel Benson of the Otago Daily Times

Sean Davison. Photo / Sharron Bennett
Sean Davison. Photo / Sharron Bennett

Convicted criminal Sean Davison became a free man yesterday.

The first thing he did was walk in the surf at Dunedin's St Clair Beach.

"I didn't sleep a wink all night, I was so excited. I was like a kid waiting for a Christmas stocking. They came around at 10am and cut my home detention bracelet off. You can see a bit of a scar, where it was,'' he said, showing his left ankle.

The South Africa-based scientist was convicted in October of aiding the death of his 85-year-old terminally ill mother, Dunedin doctor Patricia Davison, in 2006 after a trial that reignited debate on voluntary euthanasia.

He pleaded guilty to a charge that he "counselled and procured'' his mother to commit suicide and was sentenced to five months' home detention.

"I have no regrets about what I did to assist my mother to her death, because I did nothing wrong,'' he said.

"I've done my sentence, but I committed no crime.

"In the same set of circumstances, I'd do exactly the same thing again. Although, I'd rather change the law, so nobody else has to go through what I have.

"I'm not bitter. But I think it's very sad that the law finds me a criminal for an act of compassion.''

Davison's partner, Raine, and children, Flynn (3) and Finnian (1), have been awaiting his return to Cape Town since he was sentenced in the High Court at Dunedin on October 27 last year.

"They are the people who have been hurt most by this, because my children have had no father for seven months. It has been a terrible toll on my family back home. For me, every day was just the same.''

Davison founded DignitySA in South Africa, which will launch a national petition to reform euthanasia laws when he arrives home on Sunday.

"I'm going to arrive back to a huge press conference at the Cape Town airport. South Africa has been fascinated by my case and conviction here. In South Africa, it's seen as a global issue.''

Davison will also address a public forum on euthanasia and assisted suicide on Thursday in Dunedin.

Other speakers include Nelson MP Maryan Street, University of Otago Centre for Bioethics professor Grant Gillett and New Zealand Catholic Bioethics Centre director John Kleinsman.

- Otago Daily Times

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