Care Provider Gets 12 Years For Killing Friend
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 18, 2006
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND--A care provider who admitted stabbing his friend to death has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for the crime.
Eric Neil Smail, 48, will have to serve a minimum of seven years without the possibility of parole for killing 56-year-old Keith McCormick, who was quadriplegic and used a wheelchair.
The High Court's Justice John Fogarty said he chose not to impose a 17-year sentence on Smail after taking into account the "accumulated stress" of caring for McCormick during the previous nine months, and the fact that Smail was under the effects of alcohol when he stabbed his friend six times in the neck and then slid his throat last July.
"The evidence is that you thought you were doing an act of mercy in a way that minimized any awareness that he was about to die and was being killed," Justice Fogarty added during the May 12 sentencing. "There is no indication that you intended to cause him pain when killing him."
Smail had told friends at a bar earlier that day that he planned to kill McCormick, who was a well-known Paralympic athlete. The friends reported later that they did not take him seriously until he later told them what he done.
The New Zealand advocacy group Disabilityworks responded with angry sarcasm to Smail's sentence and Fogarty's reasoning behind it.
"If you want to kill someone in cold blood and get off lightly, come to New Zealand, stab someone who is paralysed in the neck six times and say you're stressed," the group wrote for its website.
"Because, according to a Kiwi judge, it's ok to kill disabled people as long as you think you are doing them a favour. It's ok to put them out of their misery -- just don't tell them you are killing them."
"Caregiver gets less than life for murder" (New Zealand Press Association)
"It's ok to kill disabled people in NZ" (Diversityworks)