18 May 2024

Cindy Taylor released from prison after allowing her mother Enai Lai Dung to starve to death

7:50 pm on 18 May 2024

By Jeremy Wilkinson, Open Justice multimedia journalist of NZ Herald

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Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

A woman who allowed her mother to starve to death, leaving her half-naked in bed on a tarpaulin with broken bones and weighing only 29kg, has been freed from prison.

Cindy Melissa Taylor was jailed for 12 years in 2016 after being found guilty of manslaughter by failing to provide the necessary care to keep her elderly mother alive.

At the trial, a paramedic who found 76-year-old Enai Lai Dung at a South Auckland address where she was a boarder described her as looking like a "scarecrow".

It was estimated she had gone four or five days without water and up to 15 days without food. She died of dehydration and malnutrition.

Dung also had several bedsores, one of which had penetrated to the bone, and another that was gangrenous.

She had 14 fractures to her ribs and sternum. A pathologist found evidence that there had been "little creatures nibbling at her skin".

At Cindy Taylor's sentencing in the High Court at Auckland, Justice Edwin Wylie said it was difficult to "imagine death in worse or more degrading circumstances".

Brian and Luana Taylor, who are not related to Cindy Taylor but shared the same home, were both jailed after being found guilty of failing to protect a vulnerable adult.

Luana was granted parole in 2019 while Brian, a Canadian citizen, was released in 2018 and deported in 2023.

Cindy Taylor became eligible for parole in 2020 but was declined. She was declined again at the end of 2022.

However, at her most recent parole hearing in November last year, she was granted release and has been in the community since.

In the Parole Board's decision, recently provided to NZME, the board described the background to her offending as "unusual".

It said she was very much under the influence of Luana Taylor, who had an extensive history of offending and was a dominant personality.

Cindy Taylor was described as a model prisoner and psychological reports considered her a low risk of reoffending. She had made "considerable progress" in terms of her insight into her offending and had the ability to apply the skills she had learned.

"Ms Taylor has been practising assertiveness and boundary setting in dealings with other inmates and has also reflected good insight in her discussions with the psychologist," the decision stated.

"Given Ms Taylor's low assessed risk and the specific context in which her offending arose, the rehabilitation she has engaged with and the supports available to her, we are satisfied her risk may be managed in the community for the time remaining on her sentence."

Cindy Taylor was made subject to a range of conditions when she was released.

These included not entering Kawerau, in the Bay of Plenty, to participate in psychological assessments and any other treatments her probation officer recommended and not to contact any victims or co-offenders related to her offending.

NZME's attempts to contact Cindy Taylor were unsuccessful.

This story originally appeared in the NZ Herald.

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