A former lawyer has been convicted and discharged after he admitted entering into a suicide pact with his wife.
Michael Spensley, 85, didn't die, but his wife of 23 years, Elaine Spensley, did pass away.
It was on April 5, 2018, that the Palmerston North couple wrote a number of handwritten notes to police, the Coroner and their family outlining their intentions to end their lives.
Spensley also left a letter outside their neighbour's home, with the intention of police finding them before their families.
Under the Crimes Act, if two people are party to a suicide pact, and one survives, they are liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years.
Judge Geoff Rea of the Napier District Court said: "the fact Mr Spensely survived, does not change the fact that he was supposed to die as well".
However, Elaine Smith's daughter, Sue Smith, told the court she never thought her mother would take her own life.
"We all love and cherish our mother. We had no idea our mother was contemplating suicice, and her death is beyond belief."
She says it was not a "bungled suicide" but something that was carefully planned.
"This was not a romantic notion of two elderly lovers who died together. Only one person died that day."
Following the sentencing, Cam Robertson, Michael's lawyer, released a statement saying the ordeal had been "profoundly distressing to both families".
"Police investigated this matter very thoroughly in consultation with their legal team. The charge laid is the correct one, the inherent irony is that had the defendant died, the law would not have been broken.
"As mentioned, the police investigation was thorough and no evidence of foul play detected. This was an elderly couple who made a decision to die together and one was not successful.
"There is nothing sinister here, it is just very sad for all concerned."
The police also released a statement recognising the work of the investigative team involved.
"This was a challenging case for the investigation team and I would like to recognise the work of everyone involved in achieving the outcome today," detective senior sergeant Craig Sheridan said.
"I would also like to acknowledge the family of Elaine Spensely.
"Their strength as a family and commitment to honouring their mother, grandmother and great grandmother has been resolute."
Where to find help and support:
Shine (domestic violence) - 0508 744 633
Women's Refuge - 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE)
Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737
What's Up - 0800 WHATS UP (0800 942 8787)
Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
Samaritans - 0800 726 666
Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757
Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)