A woman has been arrested and charged with manslaughter in relation to the death of Ann Marie Smith. The 54-year-old, who had cerebral palsy and relied on a carer, died in April as a result of septic shock, multiple organ failure from severe pressure sores and cerebral palsy, while she had also suffered from malnutrition.
The unidentified 68-year-old woman was arrested on Thursday morning at her home in Hectorville. Police searched the woman’s home, along with a second address in Banksia Park. She has been charged at the City Watch House and is expected to appear in court today or tomorrow.
Smith, who had cerebral palsy and relied on a carer, died at Royal Adelaide Hospital on April 6, as a result of septic shock, multiple organ failure from severe pressure sores and cerebral palsy, while she had also suffered from malnutrition. Police will allege that Ann died of serious criminal neglect and her death was preventable.
“We have built a picture of Annie’s life since the death of her parents in 2009. She led an active and outgoing life from 2009-2018 but in the past two years she became more socially isolated and her quality of life deteriorated,” Detective Superintendent Des Bray, from the major crimes unit, said.
Speaking this morning, Bray confirmed that the police investigation will now move into its second phase, as police continue to investigate all aspects of Ann Marie Smith’s life.
SA Police also confirmed that they have so far been unable to locate any dentists who have provided treatment to Ann at any stage in her life, with Bray urging any dental workers who may be aware of Ann to come forward. He also confirmed that the police have still been unable to locate any medical records relating to Ann’s care from 2014 onwards.
Earlier this year, SA Police released a series of photographs which revealed the bleak environment that Smith lived in alone before she passed away. The photographs showed the front room of Ms Smith’s Adelaide home, where she reportedly spent an entire year sitting in the same cane chair before her tragic death.
The photographs paint a dismal picture of Smith’s quality of life, showing sparse furniture, including a cane chair placed over several towels on the floor, a small dining table cluttered with photographs and other items, and a couch. A small, undecorated Christmas tree can also be seen in the photographs, and Major Crime investigating officer, Detective Senior Sergeant Phil Neagle, told 9News the photos show that Smith was neglected.
Geoff Rowe, chief executive officer of Aged and Disability Advocacy Australia (ADA Australia), described Ann’s death as “shocking” and said generally, disability and aged care providers go above and beyond to ensure the care of clients is up to standard. He said there are many unusual factors surrounding Ann’s case, such as why the infections had been left untreated for so long and why a complaint hadn’t been made earlier.
She became a member of Starts at 60 and got access to amazing travel deals, free masterclasses, exclusive news and features and hot member discounts!
And she entered to win a $10K trip for four people to Norfolk Island in 2021. Join now, it’s free to become a member. Members get more.