SYDNEY, Australia – A court sentenced a Sydney woman Wednesday to 22 months periodic detention for what she said was the mercy killing of her longtime partner, an Alzheimer's sufferer who had been rejected for a legal euthanasia in Switzerland.
Shirley Justins, 60, was found guilty in June of the manslaughter of Graeme Wylie, who died of a barbiturate overdose at age 71 at their home in 2006.
She had faced a maximum 25-year prison sentence. Her sentence of periodic detention means she will spend just a few days each week in custody.
Wylie, who had Alzheimer's disease, was rejected for a legally assisted suicide in Switzerland four months before his death because it was unclear whether he had the cognitive ability to decide to die. Justins, who had lived with Wylie for 18 years, argued in her trial in Australia that Wylie had been desperate to die before his dementia worsened.
In the sentencing hearing Wednesday, Justice Roderick Howie said that while Justins believed she was doing what Wylie wanted, she had misled people and was part of a criminal enterprise with family friend Caren Jenning, who bought the barbiturate in Mexico.
Howie called Justins "selfish and cruel" for not allowing Wylie's daughters to say goodbye to him.
"She did deceive our family, she did deceive dad," said Wylie's daughter, Tania Shakespeare, after the sentencing. "I'm heartbroken that I wasn't able to say goodbye to my father."
Jenning also was convicted in July as an accessory to manslaughter. She suffered from terminal breast cancer and killed herself in October with the same barbiturate.