'I don't think justice has been served' - daughter of suicide pact victim Elaine Spensley

A former lawyer has been convicted and discharged after he admitted entering into a suicide pact with his wife. 

Michael Spensley didn't die, but his wife of 23 years, Elaine Spensley, did. 

However, Elaine's daughter says there's more to it - and what happened is not a romantic notion of two elderly people dying together.

It was on April 5 last year in Palmerston North that the pair wrote a number of notes to police, the Coroner, and their family outlining their intentions to end their lives. 

But Elaine's daughter, Sue Smith, says in her opinion, it was not a bungled double suicide. She says she spoke to her mother shortly before she died. 

"I saw her two days before it happened and I have never heard my mother talk about taking her own life, and I don't believe the rest of my family had either," says Smith. "So it was a terrible shock to find out."

Michael Spensley left a letter in the neighbour's letterbox telling them of their plans to take their own lives and asking the neighbour to call police. 

The court heard Mrs Spensely died first. 

Smith said in a victim impact statement that Michael Spensley, a former lawyer, then played Solitaire on his computer and then, some hours later, he tried to take his own life.  

"He emailed my sister to say that's what had happened. That while he was waiting for the neighbour to find the note in his letterbox to call the police, and Mum was already dead, he played Solitaire".

However, the judge accepted that it was Mr Spensley's intention to die as well.

When police arrived they found the pair on a bed - Spensley was still alive. 

Michael Spensley refused to speak with police about what happened and swiftly moved to Hawke's Bay. 

Smith says getting a conviction and being allowed to walk free is disappointing. 

"I don't think justice has been served - not at all," she said.

"We trusted him to do the right thing by our mother. [To] get help, if help was required. He's let down our family very much so."

And she says that message goes for anyone thinking of ending their own life. 

"The reason for me speaking to you today is really to encourage people - we are not mind readers. If someone is in a desperate situation, if they give their family a chance to respond and get help. But if they don't communicate how desperate they're feeling, the consequences of doing something like this, there is no going back."

She says her mother was cherished, loved and had no terminal illness, and there are so many layers to what happened and questions - questions that may never be answered.

Newshub has spoken to lawyer Cam Robertson and he says this has been profoundly distressing for both families, but that the police did investigate this properly and laid the correct charge.

He also says there was no evidence of foul play - there is nothing sinister here and it's just sad for everyone involved.

Where to find help and support:


Contact Newshub with your story tips: