Swimwatch readers may recall that our previous post suggested that Sport New Zealand and Cycling New Zealand (CNZ) were accessories to the suicide of Olivia Podmore. Here is what the post said.

“But make no mistake, in my opinion, whoever orchestrated the cover-up using Sport New Zealand’s money were accessories to her death and should be treated accordingly. Like some Mafia Don Sport New Zealand may not have been present when Podmore died but their greed and their money were responsible. At least they were in my opinion.”

So, what would happen if my opinion was tested in Court? I have no legal training and no experience of Court procedures. However, the balance of this post will discuss a possible case for the prosecution and a case for the defence.


The circumstances of Olivia Podmore’s suicide are covered in the Crimes Act 1961. Section 179 of the Act says.

Aiding and abetting suicide

Everyone is liable to imprisonment who incites, any person to commit suicide, if that person commits or attempts to commit suicide in consequence thereof.

The prosecution’s case is that Sport New Zealand’s money enabled CNZ to unreasonably subject Olivia to pressures that incited her to cause her own death. Both organisations grossly neglected their duty of care by inciting behaviour that they should have known could cause suicide in consequence thereof.

In particular,r senior CNZ staff members coerced Olivia to participate with CNZ in a fabricated cover-up of staff bad behaviour during pre-Rio-Olympic competition. Olivia was forced to lie for the organisation. The clear message of the CNZ conspiracy was that failure to comply would put at risk Sport New Zealand’s payment of Olivia’s training costs, overseas travel, accommodation, food, internal travel and her selection on national teams. Sport New Zealand and CNZ left a sensitive young woman with a choice between lying to the inquiry and preserving her only income and her sport or tell the truth and loose everything. Olivia chose the cover-up.

Two powerful organisations bullied Olivia into doing what she knew was wrong. They used their power to take advantage of a young athlete in their care. Two organisations that controlled everything she held dear used their power and their money for their own ends without a care for the consequences. Olivia was their victim.

But Sport New Zealand and CNZ were not done yet. Olivia gave them everything, including her reputation for honesty. In return CNZ failed to select her for the Tokyo Olympic Games. She had compromised her good name, her reputation and her self-esteem for them, and her reward was rejection. Olivia could not stand the pain inflicted directly on her by the actions of CNZ using Sport New Zealand’s money, and committed suicide.

The action of two all-powerful bullies was an incitement to suicide. CNZ and Sport New Zealand manipulated Olivia’s life and neglected their duty of care to an extent that the pain was an incitement for Olivia to take her own life.

Section 179 of the Crimes Act 1961 is in the Act for just this circumstance. Dangerous actions by CNZ, using Sport New Zealand’s money, directly encouraged Olivia to inflict self-harm. The jury’s decision should be guilty.    


The defence case is simple and very strong. In order to be convicted of aiding and abetting Olivia’s suicide the prosecution needs to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the intention of Sport New Zealand and CNZ was to cause her suicide. Sport New Zealand and CNZ have to be shown to have acted with that intention and must have premeditated the possibility of her suicide.

Sport New Zealand and CNZ could not reasonably predict that Olivia would take her life as a result of their actions. Some might argue that Sport New Zealand and CNZ should have seen her suicide as a consequence of their actions. However, they did not – and that is an acceptable defence.

The defence would also present the “Consent Defence” by arguing that no crime was committed because their actions were done with Olivia’s consent. In fact, the defence would argue that Olivia gave more than consent. She welcomed the money, the fame, the teams, the lifestyle and the training. She was a committed loyal member of the CNZ team. She had been published in cycling magazines and local papers supporting Sport New Zealand and CNZ.

How could either organisation possibly know she was on the verge of suicide when everything she said publicly supported them and her lifestyle? Since the day Olivia arrived in Cambridge the relationship with Sport New Zealand and CNZ had been warm and mutually beneficial. Every contact Sport New Zealand and CNZ had with Olivia had been for the purpose of making her life better and more successful. The money, the travel, the training and the facilities were provided for her support.

No one could have foreseen the tragedy that was about to unfold. The fact that it did does not make Sport New Zealand or CNZ guilty of aiding and abetting her suicide.

The jury’s decision should be not guilty


Readers who have got this far are the jury. It is for you to decide.

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