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Arrest disgusts Nelson widower

GEOFF DALE/Sunday Star-Times

An 84-year-old Nelson man being investigated by police after his wife died with a plastic bag over her head says he is “disgusted” at a serious charge laid against euthanasia campaigner Lesley Martin.

Martin claimed in a book that she tried to assist her cancer-stricken mother Joy Martin to die in 1998.

She appeared in the Wanganui District Court yesterday charged with attempted murder and was released on strict bail conditions, including a ban on talking to the media.

Ralph Vincent, who is waiting to learn the outcome of a police investigation into the death of his wife Vicky in Nelson in September, said Martin’s arrest would “quell a voice just when voices are needed”.

Mr Vincent met Martin in Wanganui last year. He was in touch with her again this morning from Dunedin, where he is holidaying.

He said he was disgusted that the authorities had arrested Martin at a time when a bill was coming before Parliament which would review New Zealand’s euthanasia laws.

“I hope and trust that this not politically motivated, as this is a person that should be appearing before the select committee.”

Mr Vincent said his sole purpose in life was to gain maximum publicity for the cause of euthanasia.

Detective Sergeant Kevin Tiernan of the Nelson CIB said forensic reports relating to Mr Vincent’s case had just been received by Nelson police.

He said the evidence was still being considered.

“We’re reviewing the file and will be discussing that with our police legal team so that we can determine the way forward. We’ve still got an open mind.”

Mr Tiernan said it could be another month before police made a decision on Mr Vincent’s case.

Mr Vincent said he had last spoken with the police about two weeks ago, and he was not at all concerned about the investigation.

“Why should I be? I don’t care about my circumstances; they don’t matter. I’m 84 years old and suffering from sciatica.”

Mr Vincent said he had recorded an interview with television current affairs programme Sunday, which was due to be screened in the next few weeks.

He said the interview would reveal to the public the circumstances surrounding the death of his wife, who was suffering from a painful bone disease and cancer.

Martin, a trained intensive care nurse, claimed in her book that she tried twice to end her 68-year-old mother’s suffering, first by administering a higher than usual dose of morphine, and by suffocating her with a pillow.

A post-mortem revealed no signs of asphyxiation, and police inquiries revealed that morphine Martin’s mother had taken just before her death was administered by Martin and later a hospice nurse.

Police reactivated their investigation last year after the publication of Martin’s book, which contained her claims and in which she supported the legalisation of euthanasia.

This message brought compliments of the Evelyn Martens Defence Fund.