Peter Nixon’s charge was downgraded from attempted murder to assisted suicide, and he was eventually acquitted.
Peter Nixon’s charge was downgraded from attempted murder to assisted suicide, and he was eventually acquitted.

Assisted-suicide case a cautionary tale

PETER Nixon's bond with his father was stronger than most.

They'd talked about euthanasia before and the younger Nixon would not have thought twice about helping his dad end his suffering if he had asked.

Ultimately it was this dedication that saw him charged over his father's death.

Mr Nixon stood trial at the end of last year on a charge of assisted suicide.

The charge was downgraded from attempted murder.

A son trying to do the best for his dad and a series of clumsy sentences saw police allege that when Peter gave his father John a can of coke laced with Endone he meant to kill him.

But Peter said he only wanted to get his dad into hospital after days of watching him in excruciating pain and the nursing home declining to put him in an ambulance.

Peter gave John the coke and said: "Dad, this'll just make you go to sleep."

It did, and he put him in the car and rushed him straight to hospital.

He told the doctors John drank "poison" the fact that it was a drug John was prescribed mattered little to Peter, any kind of medication was viewed by him and his father as poison.

Unfortunately doctors aren't always well versed in the subtleties of the Aussie vernacular and called police.

John eventually passed away after doctors withdrew any treatment, other than comfort measures, as was John's wish.

He died of pneumonia, not a drug overdose.

Peter Nixon was accused of helping his father kill himself.
Peter Nixon was accused of helping his father kill himself.

According to his barrister, former Queensland attorney-general Dean Wells, it was a long bow to draw that because Peter gave John the Endone his lungs became the perfect breeding ground for the bacteria to take hold but police drew it.

During the trial an expert witness called by the prosecution said that a chest X-ray revealed it was likely John had already contracted pneumonia before drinking the Endone.

Peter's solicitor, Eugene O'Sullivan, said the case should serve as a warning to others as to why you should always have legal representation when being interviewed by police.

Peter, who was acquitted of the charges, said that while the three-odd years of legal action was rough it didn't come close to the trauma caused by watching his father waste away in agony.

Mr Nixon’s father John Stephen Nixon in his naval days.
Mr Nixon’s father John Stephen Nixon in his naval days.

"I believe euthanasia should be a choice for everyone that believes in it… I do not want to see anybody suffer and if they still have their marbles they should be able to go," he said.

"As my father said numerous times in that nursing home 'I want out'."

Two months before he died the nursing home caught John trying to escape; he was going down the footpath swinging his body through his arms because he couldn't walk.

"When they found him they asked him where he was going, Dad looked up and said 'I don't know where I'm going but I'm getting the f--- outta here'," he said.

"And that is the type of man you're dealing with, I'm just a small glimpse of my father."

The hulking ice hockey player and builder from Petrie has become an unlikely poster boy for voluntary euthanasia in Queensland but he's thrown himself into the role.

In a tribute to his best mate and father Peter has created a trust called The John Nixon Memorial Fund.

Any money raised will be used to help see laws changed in Queensland to allow voluntary euthanasia.



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