Sean Davison File photo: African News Agency

Cape Town – Right-to-die activist Sean Davison was effectively sentenced to three years' house arrest after a plea and sentencing agreement in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.

The 58-year-old was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment, which was suspended for five years, for three murders.

The UWC academic's deal was approved by Western Cape Judge President John  Hlophe. The conditions of his house arrest allow him to leave home to go to work, church and the doctor.

Davison, who previously maintained he had committed no offence, had pleaded guilty to the charges of assisting three people who wanted to end their lives.

They involved the 2013 death of his friend, Anrich Burger, a doctor, who became a quadriplegic after a car crash; the death of Justin Varian, who had motor neuron disease, in July 2015 via a bag over his head and administering helium; and the death of sportsman Richard Holland via a lethal amount of drugs in November 2015.

In 2006, the professor in UWC's biotechnology department was charged in New Zealand with murder after helping his 85-year-old mother, Patricia, die. She had been terminally ill with cancer and Davison made her a drink containing crushed morphine tablets, after she had failed to starve to death.

He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of assisted suicide and was sentenced to five months' detention, which he served under house arrest.

Davison was in court on Wednesday with his wife, Rein Pan, and one of their three children. They left the court building without speaking to the media outside. 

Cape Times