Assisted suicide trial: Accused wanted to provide 'comfort', says lawyer

A euthanasia activist charged with aiding the suicide of an elderly Wellington woman was only trying to provide comfort, according to her lawyer.

The Crown alleges Susan Austen imported an illegal drug, knowing it would be used by Annemarie Treadwell to kill herself.

Austen's lawyer says she's a compassionate woman who had no intention of aiding Ms Treadwell's suicide. 

"Ms Austen attempted to give those souls she cared so much about the comfort they needed," Donald Stevens said in court. 

"It was not about assisting them to end their lives."

The Wellington chair of euthanasia group EXIT International has been charged over the death of the 77-year-old woman, who was also a member of EXIT.

Ms Treadwell died in her Wellington rest home from an overdose of pentobarbitone, an illegal class C sedative that Austen is also charged with importing. 

In his closing statements, Mr Stevens said his client only wanted to provide "comfort". 

"The intention of Mrs Austen was not to assist Mrs Treadwell to get the substance to commit suicide, but rather to assist Treadwell get it for comfort, in case, in the future, at some point she wanted to use it."

But Crown lawyer Kate Feltham argues Austen went to great efforts to secure the lethal sedative, showing "comfort" was not her intention.

"Why didn't Austen give her some placebo, just fob her off with another powder, if her intention was just to comfort her?"

Justice Thomas will address the jury on Friday morning before it begins deliberations.