Woman avoids jail over mother’s death

A WOMAN who tried to kill her ill mother at a Ballarat nursing home has avoided immediate imprisonment.One year and a day after Agnes Caris, 81, died, her daughter Maria Christine Clark fronted the Supreme Court at Ballarat for a plea hearing, with emotional family members showing their support.Mrs Caris died at Nazareth House on the evening of December 14, last year – days after she suffered a stroke and lapsed into a coma.Clark, 51, of Ballarat, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted murder in October.The court was yesterday told Clark visited her mother, who was suffering from various medical conditions including bowel cancer, in the nursing home and pinched her windpipe to restrict her breathing. She died at 11.10pm.The next day, Clark confessed to a colleague that she had taken her mother’s last breaths and handed herself in to police.Defence barrister Tim Marsh said his client was motivated by love, not malice.He said Clark regretted taking her mother’s last breaths, but did not regret putting an end to her pain.”She doesn’t regret the alleviation of her mother’s suffering and her family’s suffering,” Mr Marsh said.He called on Mrs Caris’ brother to give evidence to the court, who said he thought Clark’s offending was “a compassionate act to do”.”My sister was very sick, her breathing was terrible. As a Christian, I prayed that she would die,” he said.Family members expressed the effects Clark’s offending had on them through victim impact statements. Three read to the court described the significant emotional trauma suffered by them, the breakdown of the family and the difficulty to accept Mrs Caris’ death.”I am not able to move on with my life because I do not know the truth about my mum,” Clark’s sister said.Mr Marsh said the nature of Clark’s offending, her motivation, her mental state and her previous good character represented “exceptional circumstances” and urged the court to impose a wholly suspended jail sentence.Crown prosecutor Daryl Brown also called for leniency, saying Mrs Caris was suffering from significant diseases and that her post mortem examination showed no objective signs of neck compression.Justice Lex Lasry convicted and sentenced Clark to two years’ jail, wholly suspended for two years.He said Clark’s remorse, clean record and her co-operation with police had contributed to his decision. Justice Lasry said the case was an unusual example of attempted murder, because Clark had tried to bring an end to her mother’s suffering, without violence.He said there were no prospects of Clark reoffending.
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