This story contains references to suicide. If you or someone you know needs support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
A CASTLEMAINE man who helped his father die by suicide has been given a good behaviour bond with conviction.
Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth on Thursday said 54-year-old Glenn Stratton's sentence needed to be "tempered with mercy".
"I'm not persuaded that the more rigorous restrictions of a community corrections order is necessary," Justice Hollingworth said.
Stratton last week pleaded guilty to a single charge of aiding and abetting his father's suicide.
The Supreme Court heard in the lead up to the suicide in May this year, Stratton's father Colin's physical health and quality of life had deteriorated.
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The 80-year-old had been undergoing years of treatment for terminal bowel cancer and was hospitalised for an overload of fluid in his legs as a result of a heart condition.
On May 24, the 80-year-old man went to a medical centre demanding to see a doctor so he could receive medication for voluntary euthanasia.
When the doctor told him he could start the paperwork but it would take some weeks, Mr Stratton became agitated.
The doctor contacted Glenn Stratton and his sister to come to the medical centre to assist with the process.
The court heard while in a waiting room, one of the workers heard the 80-year-old tell his son that he wanted to die that day and that he would shoot himself if no one would help him.
Glenn Stratton took his father back to their Castlemaine home on the direction of the doctor while his sister stayed at the medical centre.
When they arrived at the property, Colin Stratton told his son to grab a rifle so he could kill himself.
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The court heard the 54-year-old tried to convince his father not to follow through with the suicide.
But Stratton eventually agreed to help after his father repeatedly begged him for assistance, saying he would kill himself either way.
Colin Stratton died from a gunshot wound to the head. The court heard the 54-year-old hugged his father and told him he loved him before calling 000.
Stratton was arrested and interviewed at the scene. He confessed to aiding the suicide, telling police he would do anything for his father.
Victim impact statements from Stratton's family were read to the Supreme Court last week. The family spoke of their admiration for Stratton's "courageous and selfless" actions.
In her sentencing remarks, Justice Hollingworth said while it was still a criminal offence to aid suicide, it was clear that Stratton's offending was at the lower end of the scale.
The justice said Glenn Stratton did not encourage his father to die by suicide, on the contrary, the 54-year-old did all he could to dissuade his father.
"You were placed in an unenviable position," she said. "The psychological pressure must have been enormous."
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Justice Hollingworth said she accepted Stratton committed the crime out of love and respect for his father's wishes, rather than for any ulterior motive.
She said his feelings of remorse were complicated, as he accepted responsibility for the offending but also felt like he was placed in the situation because of failures in the system.
Justice Hollingworth also accepted that Stratton had endured extra-curial punishment including 46 days of pre-sentence detention and the separation from his family while they were all grieving.
She said further jail time would be inappropriate and a community corrections order would be too restrictive.
"This is a case where justice should be tempered by mercy," Justice Hollingworth said.
The Supreme Court justice instead convicted and sentenced Stratton to a two-year good behaviour bond. Under the order, Stratton will need to complete counselling for mental health and any alcohol abuse issues.
His 46 days of pre-sentence detention were also reckoned as served.
If Stratton did not plead guilty, he would have been jailed for six months.
If you or someone you know needs support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36, or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.
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