Ballarat woman sentenced over attempted murder of mum

By Erin Williams and Katie Spurgo
Updated November 2 2012 - 12:55pm, first published December 15 2009 - 1:54am
Ballarat woman Maria Christine Clark leaving Ballarat Magistrates Court with her defence lawyer Tim Marsh earlier this year. Picture: Jeremy Bannister
Ballarat woman Maria Christine Clark leaving Ballarat Magistrates Court with her defence lawyer Tim Marsh earlier this year. Picture: Jeremy Bannister

A WOMAN who tried to kill her cancer-stricken mother at a Ballarat nursing home has avoided immediate imprisonment.Agnes Caris, 81, died at Nazareth House on December 14, last year - days after having a stroke and going into a coma.Her daughter, Maria Christine Clark, 51, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted murder.The Supreme Court at Ballarat was today told Clark visited her mother, who had bowel cancer, in the nursing home on December 14 and pinched her windpipe until she stopped breathing.The next day, she confessed that she had taken her mother's last breaths to a colleague and handed herself into police.Defence lawyer Tim Marsh told the court his client was motivated by love, not malice.Mr Marsh 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,'' he said.Mr Marsh said the nature of Clark's offending, her motivation 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 showed no signs of neck compression.Justice Lex Lasry said while Clark's offending was unlawful, there were exceptional circumstances in her case.He said there were no prospects of Clark reoffending and it was in the interests of justice to impose a non-custodial sentence.He convicted and sentenced Clark to two years' imprisonment, wholly suspended for two years.

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