Woman who gave friend gas she used to kill herself found not guilty of assisting suicide

Amelia Carter said she didn't think that Emma Crossman would go ahead with the suicide

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The Independent Online

A woman who supplied a friend with the gas she used to kill herself has been cleared of assisting suicide.

Amelia Caller, 22, argued that she never believed her friend Emma Crossman would actually go through with the suicide.

Ms Crossman, 21, was found dead in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, in January last year. A jury at Lincoln Crown Court found Ms Caller not guilty of assisting or encouraging suicide after deliberating for four and a half hours over six days of evidence.

Ms Caller’s family said that she never deserved to be prosecuted. Her sister, Fiona, said: “She hasn’t got a nasty bone in her body. She’s the nicest person you would ever meet. She doesn’t deserve any of this.”

The prosecution told the jury there was no dispute that the defendant supplied a gas that her friend used to help kill herself. Despite this, Ms Caller pleaded not guilty on the basis she did not think her best friend would actually go ahead with the suicide.

Through the trial, Ms Caller was described as being “obsessed and infatuated” with her friend.

The pair had exchanged scores of texts and social media messages in the days before Miss Crossman died.

One message from Ms Caller read to the jury said: “I just keep thinking I murdered you.” In another, she said: “I’m losing my best mate. I do understand why you are doing it and I do stand by you but it still hurts. I am sorry.”

The pair’s exchanges on the night Ms Crossman died included her explaining how she was planning her own death. She even asked her friend to take care of her cat, Tia. Ms Caller replied: “She’ll be looked after always.”

Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said it had been a “sad and tragic case... the story of two best friends with an intense and complicated relationship.”

He had asked the jury to consider whether Ms Caller believed it was a “virtual certainty” that her friend was going to take her own life or make an attempt to do so.

Ms Caller had insisted to the court that she did not intentionally try to help Ms Crossman commit suicide.

Her friend had bought the gas which helped to kill her using Ms Caller’s iPad and account. Ms Caller told the court that she had been placing an online order for alcohol when her friend took the iPad and added a second order of the deadly gas.

When she found her friend’s body the morning after she died she desperately tried to perform CPR on her.

Outside the court after the verdict, Ms Caller said: “I just don’t know what to say at the minute.” But when asked if she was relieved, she said simply: “Yes.”

Her sister Fiona did most of the talking. She said: “Finally we have received the verdict we have been longing for. Although we do not see this as a celebration, we are extremely relieved.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us through this difficult time. Milly can now move on with her life and grieve properly for her best friend Emma.”

Their mother, Carol, said: “It’s been difficult for all of us. Nobody who knows Milly can believe it’s even come to this. She was quiet and she wouldn’t harm anybody.”

With a history of depression, self-harm and overdose, Ms Crossman was particularly badly affected by relationship breakdowns. She had split up with her partner, Adrian Kemp, 56, around a month before her death.

Cases of people assisting otherwise healthy friends in suicide are relatively rare. Kevin Howe, who helped his suicidal friend set fire to himself, was jailed for 12 years in October 2013.

Mr Howe gave his friend Stephen Walker a lighter and petrol at his home in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, in May 2013.

Mr Walker, who sometimes became suicidal when drunk, successfully badgered Mr Howe to buy the petrol. Moments before his friend used it in a suicide bid, Mr Howe was seen laughing as he left the house, and saying: “He’s going to set himself on fire.”

Sentencing Mr Howe, Judge Christopher Prince, said: “[Mr Walker] would not have suffered these injuries had it not been for your actions.”