Couch mum 'didn't like contact'

Last updated 05:00 02/04/2014

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A couch-bound elderly woman tried to wash and change herself because she did not like to "bother" the daughter who cared for her, a court has been told.

But Jo-Ann Quinn, 51, says her mother, Maureen Quinn, 82, would not accept her help because she did not like to be touched or moved.

She is on trial in Napier District Court charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life to her mother.

Maureen Quinn had not moved from the couch for at least three years, the court was told.

Medical staff called to the house on November 15, 2011, found that the fibres of the blanket covering her had grown into a leg ulcer infested with maggots. Jo-Ann Quinn said it was the first time she had noticed the maggots.

Her mother's face was stained blue from the couch, and her left toenails were so long that they had become embedded in her right leg.

She died 36 days later of pneumonia.

She had existing heart trouble, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis, and relied on her daughter's care.

Crown prosecutor Steve Manning said Quinn endangered her mother's life because she did not seek timely medical care.

Quinn said she was following her mother's wishes by not seeking medical help. "She doesn't like anything done, she does what she wants," she said in a police interview played to the court.

Quinn knew the blanket was stuck to her mother's leg and suggested ringing a doctor, but nothing was done. "I don't push my mother around," she said.

She rang a doctor only after her sister in Australia raised concerns about how much pain their mother was in.

Lisa Quinn said she was shocked to see the "dramatic deterioration" in her mother when she returned home. "I had to leave the hospital room."

Her sister had cared for their mother since 2006 and lived off her pension.

Lisa Quinn said her mother was happy on the couch, as she wanted to die at home.

Maureen Quinn was "skin and bones", dehydrated and malnourished when she arrived at Hawke's Bay Hospital, chief medical officer John Gommans said.

Medical staff gave her three litres of fluid in the first few hours of her arriving at the emergency department. It had not been done lightly, as too much fluid could cause heart failure. "The pain, fractures, medical conditions, maggots, wounds and impact it had on staff was stunning."

Detective Toni Leppien said Maureen Quinn did not want to give a statement against her eldest daughter, saying: "She looked after me the best she could."

Quinn made her toast and a cup of tea for breakfast and a boiled egg for lunch. She did not eat dinner.

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Although it was painful, Maureen Quinn changed her own nappies because she did not like to bother her daughter, who grizzled when asked to dispose of them.

"I can't believe I've had eight children and I've ended up here in this state," she told Leppien.

Jo-Ann Quinn never visited her mother in hospital.

The defence declined to give evidence in the judge-only trial. Judge Jonathan Down will give his decision this morning.

- The Dominion Post

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