by Phoebe Loomes
A RELIGIOUS fanatic from Queensland has today been sentenced to 10 years in prison for pressuring his wife to kill herself so he could claim her life insurance money.
Graham Robert Morant is the first person to be convicted of the crime in a landmark case.
The 69-year-old self-styled religious pastor convinced his wife Jennifer to take her own life and aided her to do it so he could use her life insurance to build a bunker in the Gold Coast Hinterland in preparation for “the rapture”.
In 2014, Jennifer Morant died by suicide on the Gold Coast. She was 56 years old. Mrs Morant suffered from a number of chronic illnesses including depression, anxiety and back pain, the court has heard.
Today, Justice Peter Davis sentenced Graham Robert Morant to total of 10 years’ imprisonment for counselling and aiding the suicide of his wife.
“You took advantage of her vulnerability as a sick, depressed woman, you were motivated by prospect of financial gain,” Justice Davis said.
Mrs Morant’s body was found by police on November 30, 2014 with a note saying “please do not resuscitate me”.
Her husband has been convicted of counselling her to take her own life. Graham Robert Morant’s motivations include benefiting from a life insurance payment to the tune of $1.4 million.
There is no legal precedent in Australia or apparently around the world for a conviction where one person counsels another into suiciding. The case is being called a landmark decision.
Morant also held unusual religious convictions. A self-styled pastor, he hoped to use the money he gained from his wife’s death to build a religious commune and bunker in the Gold Coast Hinterland. It was here he planned to settle down and wait for the rapture.
State prosecutors have pushed for 10 to 14 years in prison for Morant.
They have said his motivations were greed, having had open conversations with his wife about wanting her life insurance money.
Morant maintained his innocence, his defence team initially arguing he had no role in his wife’s death, then asserting his role in his wife’s death was one of compassion, wanting to assuage her pain.
CCTV footage emerged during the case of Morant purchasing items at a hardware store that his wife used to take her own life. The Crown Prosector described Morant’s story changing at this point in the trial.
“Slowly, very slowly, over the course of the next hour the accused explained he did assist his wife in her suicide.”
Morant’s defence team argued that an eight-year sentence with six-month parole period was suitable.
Morant was jailed for a total of 10 years and will be eligible for parole in october 2023.