Teacher faces new euthanasia drug charge

euthanasia charge suicide susan austen dan pannett
Susan Austen's supporters outside the Wellington District Court for her latest appearance (Newshub)

Lower Hutt teacher Susan Dale Austen has been charged with helping someone take their own life.

In October the 65-year-old was charged with two counts of importing pentobarbitone - a Class C drug commonly used for euthanasia - between 2012 and 2016. 

The more serious charge of aiding a person to commit suicide was added when Austen appeared briefly in the Wellington District Court this morning.

Police allege the incident happened between December 2015 and mid-2016 in Wellington. The maximum jail sentence for that charge is 14 years.

Austen's lawyer, Donald Steven, told the court his client intends to enter a plea on all three charges when she next appears in court on the morning of May 12.

He made no comment outside court. 

Austen's supporters rallied outside court with placards before packing out the public gallery during her appearance. 

She was remanded on bail until her May 12 court appearance.

Austen is the coordinator of pro-euthanasia group Exit Wellington.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, call:

Lifeline on 0800 543 354
Suicide Prevention Helpline on 0508 828 865
Youthline on 0800 376 633, text 234 between 8am and midnight or email talk@youthline.co.nz
0800 WHATSUP (9428787) children's helpline between 1pm and 10pm on weekdays and 3pm to 10pm on weekends; online chat is available from 7pm to 10pm each day on the whatsup website.
Kidsline 24/7 on 0800 543 754 for children aged five to 18. A Kidsline buddy will be available between 4pm and 9pm on weekdays.