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Last Updated: Friday, 30 April, 2004, 07:32 GMT 08:32 UK
NZ euthanasia daughter sentenced
Lesley Martin, left with her husband Warren Fulljames
Lesley Martin could have been sentenced to up to 14 years in jail.
A New Zealand woman has been sentenced to 15 months in jail for the attempted murder of her dying mother.

Lesley Martin, a known campaigner for euthanasia, wrote a book in which she described injecting her mother Joy with morphine.

The 69-year-old woman, who had terminal bowel cancer, died the next day.

The case has sparked a national debate in New Zealand, and comes less than a year after parliament rejected legislation to legalise mercy killings.

Martin, an intensive care nurse, cared for her mother Joy for five months before she died.

Three years later she published a book about the experience entitled "To Die Like a Dog".

In it, she said that she had twice tried to kill her mother to ease her suffering - once injecting her with morphine and then by trying to suffocate her with a pillow.

It was after reading the book that New Zealand police decided to pursue a homicide investigation.

High Court Justice John Wild said he accepted that Martin had acted from love and compassion for her terminally ill mother.

But he criticised her for showing a lack of remorse and even arrogance, saying she had given the impression she thought she was above the law.

Prosecutor Andrew Cameron said he felt compassion for Martin, but had to balance that against the value of human life.

"Sanctity of life underpins our law in the most fundamental way," he said.

Martin's lawyer Donald Stevens said he would appeal both the conviction and the sentence.

Lesley Martin is one of New Zealand's leading pro-euthanasia campaigners.

She helped found Exit New Zealand, a voluntary euthanasia lobby group with links to Exit Australia, the group founded by Australian mercy killing campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke.

Last year, New Zealand's parliament narrowly defeated a Death With Dignity bill, which would have legalised some forms of euthanasia.

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