There has been a major development in the case of a woman who died after living in “disgusting and degrading” conditions.
Two directors of a South Australian disability support service fronted court on Friday, charged over the criminal neglect of their client Ann Marie Smith.
The 54-year-old woman, who suffered from cerebral palsy, died in the Royal Adelaide Hospital in April 2020 from septic shock, multiple organ failure, severe pressure sores and malnourishment.
She lived in “disgusting and degrading” conditions in her eastern suburbs home in Kensington Park, with police believing she was confined to a cane chair 24 hours a day in the year leading up to her death.
Her death was investigated by Major Crime detectives who charged her carer Rosa Maria Maione, 70, with manslaughter.
Months after Ms Smith’s death, Integrity Care SA – the disability support service responsible for caring for the victim – was searched by police.
Evidence was seized from the Edwardstown office and the business was fined more than $12,000 by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission for failing to report the woman‘s death.
The investigation led to authorities finding a number of items had been stolen from Ms Smith’s home, speeding and red light camera fines were linked to her car and about $70,000 worth of “irregular spending” was missing from the inheritance left to her from her parents who died in 2009.
On Friday, it was revealed the two directors of Integrity Care SA and the company itself had each been charged with criminal neglect over their alleged involvement in Ms Smith’s death.
They were also further charged with failing to comply with a health and safety duty of care and exposing Ms Smith to a risk of death, serious injury or illness.
Amy-June Collins and Alison Virgo were taken to the Adelaide City Watch House early on Friday morning and fronted the Adelaide Magistrates Court, where they were granted bail.
They are due to reappear before the courts in October.
“When people accept a duty of care to those who are sick and vulnerable in our community, it demands and rightly expects that they deliver the high standard of care to those people,” Deputy Commissioner Linda Williams said.
“In this case, we will allege that did not occur and resulted in the death of Annie.”
Major Crime’s Detective Superintendent, Des Bray, said officers speculated what happened with Ms Smith’s missing property, but did not have proof to progress with any charges.
He said investigations into the involvement of Integrity Care SA were ongoing and thanked the company’s employees who assisted, as well as callers to Crime Stoppers.
“This was a preventable death … and would never have occurred if the proper level of care was provided throughout,” Detective Superintendent Bray said.
“There are lots of good carers out there and good carers employed by Integrity Care who would have had no knowledge of what was occurring.”
Originally published as Disability service directors charged over Ann Marie Smith’s death
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