A devoted husband who faced criminal charges after helping his wife end her life has revealed the final moments the pair shared together in a heart-rending interview.
Neil O’Riordan assisted in the death of his wife Penelope Blume who had suffered from debilitating motor neurone disease, which affects the nerves that control the movement of muscles, the ABC reports.
She died peacefully in his arms on March 15 at their home in Canberra, with the couple sharing one last meal together before she took her final breath. According to the ABC, O’Riordan helped with the process by modifying an item used by his wife to ensure she was unconscious before she died.
The doting husband was initially charged with one count of aiding suicide however this was dropped on Tuesday when prosecutors claimed O’Riordan was acting out of love for Blume who was able to have a “quick and painless” death.
Now in an candid interview with Channel Ten’s The Project, O’Riordan has opened up about the final moments the pair shared together, adding although he was perfectly fine with his wife’s decision to end her own life, it was still the hardest thing he’d ever gone through.
“She wanted to see the beach again, eat seafood again, difficult to acquire in Canberra and mostly I guess we wanted to spend some time alone together,” he said.
“Theatrically, yes, I was perfectly fine with it… until it happened, and I was devastated. I wailed.
“I think about the unfairness… about why I couldn’t be doing this with my family… why do we have to be covert.”
He also revealed he fully expected to be charged for assisting his wife with her death, but decided to proceed anyway.
“I was prepared to and fully expected to be charged and I guess at some level I expected to be convicted and I’m very grateful that the court made a different decision,” he said.
Imagine being faced with a terminally ill partner who’d made the decision to end their life. You can’t change their mind, so you decide to help fulfill that wish. Then imagine being dragged through the courts immediately afterwards. This is Neil's heartbreaking story. pic.twitter.com/0r8ku53eDF
— The Project (@theprojecttv) July 2, 2019
The news comes after Victoria became the first state or territory in Australia to implement voluntary assisted dying legislation, which gives anyone suffering from a terminal illness, who has less than six months to live, the right to end their life legally.
The controversial law, which was passed in November 2017, came into effect in June with State Premier Daniel Andrews estimating that around one dozen people will access voluntary assisted dying within the first year, which will see patients being prescribed medication which they then self-administer at a time and place of their own choosing.
There are strict stipulations though and anyone who wishes to apply must be a Victorian resident, be aged 18 and over and have been assessed by two doctors to have a terminal illness with intolerable pain that will likely cause death within six months . However, in the case of neurodegenerative conditions such as motor neurone disease, the timeframe is extended to 12 months.
Applications must also be signed by two witnesses and, in a bid to avoid elderly patients being pressured, anyone named as a beneficiary of the person is not permitted to act as a witness.