Abortion couple Tegan Simone Leach and Sergie Brennan found not guilty
A CAIRNS couple charged over a home abortion has been found not guilty.
A Cairns District Court jury took less than an hour to find Tegan Simone Leach, 21, and her partner Sergie Brennan not guilty of charges of procuring an abortion and supplying drugs to procure an abortion following a three day trial.
The couple were charged after police found empty blister packets of abortion drugs RU486 and Misoprostol during a search of their home on an unrelated matter in February last year.
They admitted in police interviews that Ms Leach took the pills, imported by Mr Brennan's family in the Ukraine, because they were not ready to have a child.
Under Queensland law, abortion is illegal except to protect the mother's life or her physical or mental wellbeing.
However, in his final directions to the jury, Judge Bill Everson said they had to be satisfied the drugs were noxious to Ms Leach's health, rather than the foetus.
Yesterday the lawyer for the couple pleaded with jurors hearing the case to "end the nightmare" endured by his clients.
In an impassioned address, barrister Kevin McCreanor urged the Cairns District Court jury to find Tegan Simone Leach, 21, and her boyfriend Sergie Brennan, 22, not guilty.
"I ask you, on behalf of this young couple, to put an end to the nightmare they have had to go through and return a verdict of not guilty," he said.
Mr McCreanor took aim at Queensland's 110-year-old criminal code which makes abortion illegal except to protect the mother's life or wellbeing.
He said the law was drafted in a time when women had few rights and the concept of a safe abortion was unknown.
"In some cases the law is far from perfect, and you would be forgiven for thinking that this case is a perfect example of that."
However, in his final address prosecutor Michael Byrne told the jury it was not their job to decide the fairness of the law and urged them not to be guided by their personal feelings about abortion.
"You are sitting in a court of law, not a court of morals," he said.
He said if jurors wanted to see the law changed, the place to do it was at the ballot box, not the courtroom.
During the two-day trial the court heard Mr Leach used the abortion drugs RU486 and Misoprostol, obtained by Brennan through his sister in the Ukraine, to terminate her pregnancy in late 2008.
In a police interview in March 2009 she said she was not ready to care for a child.
"I can't even look after myself, so I couldn't look after someone else as well," she said.
She said she decided to use the abortion drugs RU486 and Misoprostol because she did not want to go through the ordeal of a surgical abortion.
They did not check whether the drugs were legal in Queensland but assumed they must have been because they were not seized by customs.
Foetal medicine expert Professor Nicholas Fisk said RU486 had been safely prescribed to millions of women across the world and was the most common abortion method in Britain.
However, he said its use was heavily restricted in Queensland, although it was available through a Cairns doctor.
Prof Fisk said there was no clinical evidence to confirm the drugs had caused Leach's miscarriage and it was possible it had occurred naturally.
Mr Byrne said there was no legal defence for the couple's actions, because it could not be shown that the abortion was performed to save Leach's life or protect her physical or mental health.