Daughter jailed for neglecting her mother

Joanne Quinn will spend two years and six months behind bars for failing to provide the necessaries of life for her elderly mother.

The 51-year-old was sentenced in Napier District Court this afternoon, following a severe case of neglect never before seen in New Zealand, said Judge Jonathan Down.

Quinn was found guilty in a judge alone trial last month by Judge Down, who sentenced her to two years and six months' imprisonment today.

Medical staff discovered Quinn's mother, Maureen Quinn, on November 15, 2011, embedded in a couch and blanket with festering leg wounds.

Maureen died six weeks after being admitted to hospital from bronchial pneumonia.

Quinn was her mother's eldest daughter and sole caregiver.

Medical staff discovered 82-year-old Maureen Quinn on November 15, 2011 imbedded in a couch and blanket with maggots covering her leg wounds.

Maureen died six weeks after being admitted to hospital from bronchial pneumonia.

During her trial, Quinn was approached by another woman in court and slapped, before the woman, believed to be a family member, fled from the court pursued by security.

Finding Quinn guilty last month, Judge Down said in the context of the case, nourishment, hydration and medical care were the necessaries of life.

The Crown had argued Quinn clearly owed and had a duty to override the wishes of her mother and provide those necessaries of life.

"This is the sort of case that can give rise to the feelings of prejudice and sympathy," Judge Down said. "One only has to look at the photo evidence and listen to the medical witnesses."

"What I was struck by was a very broad and deep agreement by all the medical witnesses about the state and condition of [Maureen]."

Judge Down said Maureen Quinn was severely dehydrated, severely malnourished and showed signs of severe neglect, while not being able to withdraw from her daughter's care.

In light of "compelling medical evidence" he had reached an "inevitable conclusion".

Judge Down was struck by one moment when trial witness Detective Toni Leppien gave an account of holding hands with Maureen Quinn in hospital.

"Your hand is so warm. I can't remember the last time someone touched me," Maureen told the detective.

Judge Down said the 82-year-old was referring to the "warmth and comfort" that must have been missing from her home environment.

He said he had no doubt Maureen's life was in imminent danger and had she not been admitted to hospital on November 15, 2011 her death would have come at a much earlier stage.

"It was obvious to the defendant and to all, beyond any reasonable doubt, that much greater care was required."

By Sam Hurley of Hawke's Bay Today

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