Daughter jailed for neglect and manslaughter of elderly woman
A daughter who let her mother starve to death in her own waste as been jailed for 13 years and three months.
Cindy Taylor appeared for sentencing at the High Court at Auckland on Monday after being found guilty at an August trial of manslaughter.
In January 2015 the body of Ena Lai Dung, 76, was found in the Manurewa home she shared with her daughter and their flatmates, Brian and Luana Taylor.
Dung was found in a skeletal state, covered in her own waste and with flies and maggots on her body.
An autopsy revealed she was malnourished, dehydrated and had 15 broken ribs and sternum which were untreated and had begun to heal themselves.
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Flatmates, married couple Brian and Luana Taylor, were also found guilty of failing to protect a vulnerable adult and on Monday were sentenced to six years, and six years and three months jail respectively.
Cindy Taylor was also found guilty and sentenced on two charges of dishonestly using a document, after she made withdrawals from her mother and late uncle's bank cards, totalling $37,000.
Crown prosecutor Natalie Walker said the offence of failing to protect a vulnerable adult was new and lawyers had struggled to find New Zealand cases with similar facts.
'SHE DIDN'T DESERVE TO DIE THE WAY THAT SHE DID'
In a victim impact statement read to the court Dung's sister said she had only found out about her death through the reporting of the trio's trial.
She had been estranged from her sister for some years but said Dung didn't deserve to die how she had.
"I cry whenever I think about her suffering, and the pain of her broken ribs. I have nightmares of her hurting and starving to death," she said.
"I cried and cried to know that my sister's dignity was disregarded and she was left on a plastic sheet.
"Whatever Ena did in her life, she didn't deserve to die the way that she did. Cindy, if I was able to talk to you about what has happened, I would ask, why didn't you come to us for help?
"Why didn't you reach out to us?"
HOW DID ENA LAI DUNG DIE?
Dung's half naked body was found on a plastic sheet riddled with faeces and urine.
The stain of her own waste had left acid burns on Dung's body, and she weighed just 29kg.
A pathologist said she had broken bones that never received treatment and had begun to heal themselves.
The cause of death was malnutrition and dehydration, with the pathologist estimating she hadn't eaten in weeks, or had water in five days.
One ulcer on her body had turned into gangrene, and there was evidence she had bronchopneumonia.
Crown prosecutor Natalie Walker said Dung's death was the result of the "collective gross failings" of the three who had "inexplicably" failed to care for her.
"There was no excuse for this. They took great care of themselves," Walker said.
"The Crown says Ena Lai Dung would have died a lonely, painful and miserable death."
CINDY TAYLOR 'SLAVED AWAY' AT HOME
On Monday Cindy Taylor's lawyer Peter Kaye said his client had worked nights and then come during the day and "slaved away" cleaning the home and looking after her mother.
For Luana Taylor, lawyer Maria Mortimer said Taylor, who is in a wheelchair, would have a more difficult time in custody.
Brian Taylor's counsel, Louise Freyer, said he maintained his innocence.
The 62-year-old painter told a report writer that his job meant he had burnt follicles in his nose, and couldn't smell anything, which he explained was how he couldn't smell Dung's decaying body.
TURNED A BLIND EYE
Justice Edwin Wylie said the evidence at the trio's trial was "harrowing" and said married couple Brian and Luana Taylor had essentially "turned a blind eye" to Dung's suffering.
"Neither of you did anything."
They knew Cindy Taylor was using copious amounts of cleaners and air fresheners in her mother's room, and although Luana Taylor had called Healthline the day before Dung's death- to say Dung was suicidal- she had "downplayed" the circumstances, Justice Wylie said.
Having discovered Dung's lifeless body Justice Wylie said Luana Taylor had refused to perform CPR on Dung, as per the operator's suggestion, and instead became "abusive" to the call taker.
Brian and Luana Taylor were married 18 years and Luana Taylor told a report writer she had six children but that five had been killed in a car accident, and had one son living in New Zealand.
However that son told a pre-sentence report writer that he had no knowledge of having any siblings.
In a pre-sentence report Cindy Taylor described her mother as a "strong, controlling" woman, and expressed remorse for "the predicament" she now found herself in- facing prison- and her mother's death.
She told the report writer that she intended to take her mother to hospital but she died before she could.
Justice Wylie said Cindy Taylor had "failed to meet even the most basic expectations (Dung) was entitled to" and that her actions were "cruel and callous in the extreme".
"Your offending was a serious example of its kind. Your gross neglect and breach of accepted standard of human decency resulted in your mother's death," Justice Wylie said.
For the charge of manslaughter Justice Wylie jailed her for 12 years.
For the two charges of using a document she received an additional sentence of 15 months jail.
Brian Taylor was jailed for six years.
Luana Taylor was jailed for six years and three months.