A woman in chronic pain and portrayed as having a ‘zest and zeal’ for death succumbed to her husband’s plot to gain wealth and religious status.
Graham Robert Morant, 69, has been convicted by a Brisbane Supreme Court jury of aiding and counselling Jennifer Morant to kill herself on the Gold Coast in 2014 over a plot to use her life insurance money to build a religious commune.
Morant was the sole beneficiary of her three life insurance policies totalling $1.4million when she took her own life in November that year.
Jenny Morant (pictured) lived with chronic back pain before taking her own life in 2014
Ms Morant lived with chronic back pain and found even the most simple everyday tasks difficult.
But Morant persuaded her over the months before her death by telling her the funds would go towards a commune which would provide a haven from the biblical rapture where he would be pastor.
Morant claimed to police Ms Morant wanted to die, but two witnesses close to her testified she did not want to kill herself and was scared by his pressure on her to do so.
‘I had such a zest and zeal to live. She had such a zest and zeal to die,’ Morant told police in an interview.
Ms Morant did not have a terminal illness.
Her best friend Johanna Cornelia Dent said she felt the only way to escape death was to win the lottery.
Morant told his wife her suicide would not be a sin in God’s eyes because of the financial benefit to their church, Ms Morant’s sister Lynette Anne Lucas told the jury.
He said she would be too weak to survive the rapture, Ms Lucas testified.
A jury has found Graham Robert Morant (pictured) guilty of encouraging and helping his wife to take her own life four years ago
The jury deliberated for a day-and-a-half before reaching its verdict on Tuesday.
Members of the public gallery burst into tears after the verdict was handed down.
Morant was denied bail ahead of his October 19 sentencing despite Justice Peter Davis accepting he is a low risk to the community and had never breached his bail conditions.
‘Consistent with the directions I gave the jury, the jury has concluded but for the counselling, Ms Morant would not have ended her life,’ Justice Davis said.
‘The offences are serious.’
The jury’s verdict showed Morant intended for Ms Morant to take her life, Justice Davis said.
A jail sentence for Morant is ‘inevitable’ but Justice Davis indicated he may wholly or partially suspend the sentence based on the strength of submissions.
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Morant (pictured attending his trial last week) was denied bail ahead of sentencing later this month