Townsville Bulletin, Australia
By Ashleigh Wilson
A DECISION on whether charges will be laid against the 21 people who witnessed Gold Coast grandmother Nancy Crick commit suicide last year could be known within a month, Queensland's Director of Public Prosecutions, Leanne Clare, said yesterday.
The breakthrough in the 10-month saga came as 92-year-old retired farmer Fred Short identified himself as one of those who watched Crick drink a lethal cocktail of barbiturates.
Mr Short told The Australian he was proud to be there and said he was tired of waiting to be charged.
"I'm fed up with how we are treated as though we have committed some sort of crime," Mr Short said.
"I have seen quite a bit of death in my time and have never seen anyone die with the grace that she did.
"I don't mind being numbered amongst those who were with Nancy when she died."
The issue of whether those present should be charged with assisting a suicide -- an offence which carries a maximum life sentence in Queensland -- is currently with Ms Clare.
She hoped to give her final advice to police in the next month. The decision to lay charges will then rest with the police.
"I will finalise my advice when I have all of the information that I require to make an informed decision," Ms Clare said.
Of the 21 people present at Crick's death on May 22 last year, only John Edge, the Queensland co- ordinator of pro-euthanasia group Exit Australia, has previously confirmed he was among those present.
But according to Crick's doctor, Philip Nitschke, the others are now keen to speak out.
"The 21 didn't do this to be muzzled for a year," Dr Nitschke said. "They did it because they wanted to bring this issue out into the open."
Mr Short said Crick had a "wonderful death".
He said she kissed all her supporters before calmly heading to her room and getting into bed.
"I remember her saying 'no more pain' -- and asking for a cigarette. After a couple of minutes, it just dropped from her fingers. That was it."
Crick's youngest son Daryle also confirmed yesterday he was present at his mother's "peaceful" death.
Mr Crick said he left the room in tears several times before she died.
"Then I gave her a kiss goodnight and turned off the light," he said.
Mr Short, who admitted to police soon after Crick's death that he was present, remains proud of what he did.
"I feel that we are just sitting around with something hanging over our heads," he said.
"We are sick of waiting. If the police have got anything against us, I would welcome the chance to say what I think."
Mr Edge, who said he would wear any charges as "a badge of honour", doubts whether the 21 witnesses should have obeyed legal advice to stay quiet.
"It's my opinion that we made a fundamental blunder by not getting up and saying we were there," he said.
"This is unfinished business and I want it to be sorted out."