Suicide plan could have saved ‘concerned’ friend from jail

Merin Nielsen was sentenced to three years’ jail in Brisbane late last month for assisting the suicide of 76-year-old Frank Ward.

It is the first time someone has been jailed for the offence in Queensland. The 50-year-old teacher will be released on parole after serving six months.

Mr Ward was found dead in his Clayfield unit on Brisbane’s northside on 20 June, 2009.

Dr Nitschke said he was relieved Nielsen did not receive a harsher sentence, given the maximum penalty was life imprisonment under Queensland law.

However, he said it was still “dreadful” he would have to serve any time at all.

“He’s a person who’s now a significant criminal in the eyes of the law... although he was acting out of concern for Frank Ward,” he told AAP.

Dr Nitschke said he would use Nielsen’s case to warn people at his seminars about the consequences of having friends and family help them