US & Canada

Coventry mother welcomes US nurse's suicide case conviction

Media captionMelchert-Dinkel faces up to 15 years in prison

The mother of a British suicide victim has welcomed the conviction of a US man who encouraged her son to kill himself over the internet.

Ex-nurse William Melchert-Dinkel was found guilty by a judge in Minnesota on Tuesday of aiding two suicides.

Coventry man Mark Drybrough, 32, hanged himself in 2005, and Nadia Kajouji, 18, from Ontario, Canada, jumped into a river in 2008.

Elaine Drybrough described Melchert-Dinkel's actions as "terrible".

Both her son and Ms Kajouji had been contacted by 48-year-old Melchert-Dinkel, who encouraged them to end their lives.

Prosecutors claimed he hunted down his victims on the internet for "the thrill of the chase" and gave them advice and encouragement.

Melchert-Dinkel's trial was told he was obsessed with suicide and hanging.

He posed as a female nurse, feigned compassion and offered step-by-step instructions on how his victims could kill themselves, prosecutors said.

Speaking from her home in Coventry, Mrs Drybrough expressed her hope that the court's decision would deter others from behaving in a similar way.

She said of the guilty verdict: "I think it's the right thing - it would certainly have encouraged others (to commit similar crimes) if he had been found not guilty.

"He's been told it's not all right."

Image caption Coventry man Mark Drybrough, 32, hanged himself in 2005

Speaking about Melchert-Dinkel's motive, Mr Drybrough's father Laurie said: "Really he was doing it for his own pleasure."

US prosecutors said Melchert-Dinkel acknowledged having taken part in online chats about suicide with up to 20 people and entering into fake suicide pacts with about 10, five of whom he believed killed themselves.

Melchert-Dinkel's attorney Terry Watkins acknowledged his client's actions were "sick" and "abhorrent" but said Mr Drybrough had been ill for years and Ms Kajouji was depressed and drinking heavily.

Rice County Judge Thomas Neuville rejected Mr Watkins's argument earlier in the trial that Melchert-Dinkel's remarks was shielded by the free speech protections of the US constitution.

Melchert-Dinkel faces up to 15 years in prison and a $30,000 (£18,676) fine. He is to be sentenced on 4 May.

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