A devoted son who granted his terminally ill father’s desperate wish to die at the end of a .22 rifle has been released on a good behaviour bond.
Glenn Stratton, 53, had pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court of Victoria to aiding and abetting the suicide of his 80-year-old father Colin.
Stratton had been placed in an unenviable position in May last year after his father was denied immediate access to a ‘suicide pill’.
Glenn Stratton, 53, agreed to shoot dead his cancer-suffering father Colin, 80, at his property in May this year in Castlemaine, Victoria after doctors refused to euthanise him
Mr Stratton Snr has been diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2018 after watching his own wife die slowly after she suffered a stroke.
Her miserable demise had prompted the Stratton family to lobby for voluntary euthanasia.
Mr Stratton Snr had been grief stricken over the death of his wife and when cancer struck him down, he knew that when the time was right, he wanted to end his life on his own terms.
In passing sentence on Thursday, Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth painted a grim picture of the dying father’s list of medical ailments.
Chemotherapy lumped upon arthritis and other conditions saw Mr Stratton Snr’s mental state decline in the weeks before his death.
He had lost his sense of taste, could not feel his hands, was in constant pain and unable to even pot about in his garden any longer.
Adored by his family, he told them the time was right to end his suffering.
He and his late wife had spoken with doctors on multiple occasions about Victoria’s voluntary assisted dying program.
Under the scheme, terminally-ill Victorian adults in intolerable pain and with less than six months to live, or 12 months for neurodegenerative diseases, and who meet 68 safeguards can request their doctor’s help in dying.
Mr Stratton Snr had simply wanted to enjoy a cup of tea in his garden, take the pill, and slip away peacefully.
But bureaucrats denied his application.
Fed up, he attended his local GP on May 24 last year and asked for the pill, but was again denied access.
He would need to wait at least two weeks for his application to be processed, he was told.
Colin Stratton dreamed to die with a ‘peaceful pill’ and ‘a cuppa’ after suffering with cancer for years but doctors refused forcing him to ask his son Glenn to take his life
Mr Stratton Snr told the doctor he would shoot himself in the head that day if she didn’t help him.
Stratton Jnr and his sister were called to the clinic, but their dad didn’t hang about.
He was sick of talking.
The court heard Stratton Jnr had left his life in Queensland to return to Victoria to look after his sick dad.
Mr Stratton Snr had been a dedicated father, strong, determined and had always been there for his family.
Justice Hollingworth noted Stratton Jnr would have done anything for his father.
Seated on the verandah, Mr Stratton Snr asked his son to retrieve his .22 rifle from the shed and a single bullet.
Stratton Jnr begged his father not to go through with it.
Mr Stratton Snr told him he was going to do it with or without him.
With the barrel of the rifle pointed at his head, Mr Stratton Snr was unable to reach the trigger.
He placed his son’s hand on the gun and counted down twice, but each time Stratton Jnr said he couldn’t do it.
‘Don’t make me make a bloody mess of it, I can’t do this myself,’ he barked at his son.
The countdown began a third time – it would be the last.
‘I love you dad,’ Stratton Jnr told him.
‘I love you son,’ he replied.
When the countdown reached one, Mr Stratton Snr closed his eyes and his son pulled the trigger.
Mr Stratton Snr’s daughter, Donna, arrived home soon after to find her brother sobbing in the backyard.
He made full admissions to police and spent 46 days behind bars on a murder charge before it was dropped and he was bailed.
The court heard Stratton Jnr continues to be tormented by what he felt obligated to do and relived the shooting each and every day.
While Justice Hollingworth said her sentence, which came with conviction, needed to have an element of general deterrence for the community, she also felt Stratton Jnr had probably suffered enough already.
‘This is a case where justice should be tempered by mercy. There would be no benefit to you or to society in sending you to prison for this event,’ she said.