5 Aug 2016

Judge sums up in trial of woman accused over mother's death

7:44 am on 5 August 2016

The judge is summing up in the case of a woman accused of letting her elderly mother starve to death in her own waste.


Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Cindy Taylor is accused of the manslaughter of her mother Ena Dung who was found dead, weighing 29 kilograms, covered in open sores, with 14 broken ribs and a broken sternum.

Ms Taylor's live-in landlady and landlord - Brian and Luana Taylor - are accused of failing to get help for Mrs Dung, despite knowing she was in danger.

Yesterday, the jurors in the High Court in Auckland heard closing addresses from defence lawyers in the case.

Brian Taylor's lawyer, Louise Freyer, said her client only found out how bad Mrs Dung was on the day she died.

Mrs Freyer said Cindy Taylor was responsible for caring for her mother and there had even been an agreement drawn up and signed when she moved in.

She said it was clear Ms Taylor was not coping in the last few days of Mrs Dung's life but Brian Taylor didn't know that.

"There's been no evidence that suddenly Cindy Taylor starts crying hysterically and says: 'I can't do this anymore, I can't do this anymore. My mother's wasting away there, she's got sores all over her body. I can't cope'. Nothing like that."

Mrs Freyer said Mr Taylor was asked to check on Mrs Dung after she had died and it was only at that point that he saw the state of her and by then it was too late.

Luana Taylor's lawyer Maria Mortimer said her client and Mrs Dung lived separate lives, despite living under the same roof.

Ms Mortimer told the jurors that Mrs Dung died a sad and forlorn death but the Crown had not proved the charge against her client.

She said Mrs Taylor was in a wheelchair and spent most of her time in the lounge, while Mrs Dung was in a bedroom at the end of the hallway.

The jurors would also have to question how much Mrs Taylor knew about Ms Dung's condition, she said.

Earlier, the jury heard from Cindy Taylor's lawyer Peter Kaye who said his client failed to get her mother medical attention but that needed to be put in context of what she did do.

He said she was working long hours on night shift in order to look after her mother, as well as doing all the housework and catching up on sleep when she could.

He told the jurors that Ms Taylor did provide her mother with food and water but it was refused.

Ms Taylor's life shared similarities to the tale of Cinderella and the ugly sisters, Mr Kaye said.

"This woman is living a life, I suggest, of hell. Nothing short of living hell. What a life for anybody."

He told the jurors that his client had been criticised for a number of things by the Crown, but the jurors had to judge her as a human being.

"There are 12 of you, it's a reasonable person. Not with the benefit of hindsight, not some sort of perfect robot type person but reasonable person."

After the judge finishes summing up the jury will retire to consider the verdict.