A care worker has been arrested and charged with the manslaughter of Adelaide disability care recipient Ann Marie Smith, who died in what police said were “disgusting and degrading circumstances”.
Ms Smith died on April 6 from severe septic shock, multi-organ failure, severe pressure sores, malnutrition and issues connected with her cerebral palsy.
The case sparked multiple investigations, including by SA Police, and it is believed the 54-year-old may have spent up to a year confined to a cane chair before she died in hospital.
SA Police arrested a woman at her Hectorville home this morning, and searched her home and another property at Banksia Park.
The woman, a paid care worker, has been charged at the City Watch House and is expected to face court later today or tomorrow.
“We alleged that the death was the result of serious criminal neglect,” Detective Superintendent Des Bray said.
“This morning we arrested a woman at Hectorville and charged her with manslaughter and conducted another search of her home and also a second address at Banksia Park.
“I can’t discuss the evidence, but we we believe that [it] was sufficient to justify an arrest today.
“The first phase of the investigation … was focused on the provision of care directly to Annie, and anybody who was involved in that care.
“It’s been a comprehensive investigation to date, looking at all aspects of the care provided to her, and we’ve been able to build a picture of Annie’s life since the death of her parents in 2009.”
Details of Ms Smith’s fate were first publicly revealed by police at a media conference in May.
Ms Smith’s care worker was later identified as Hectorville woman Rosa Maione.
Ms Smith was a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participant who lived alone in Adelaide suburb Kensington Park and relied on a carer for all of her needs.
Her care provider, Integrity Care SA, was fined more than $12,000 by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission for failing to report her death.
Investigation moves to ‘second phase’
In June, Major Crime detectives revealed $35,000 of jewellery and two fridges were missing from Ms Smith’s home.
They also revealed her car had been used by an unknown person and that two separate loans totalling $70,000 were taken out in Ms Smith’s name in the last six years.
]A large cash inheritance left by her parents in 2009 had been withdrawn from her bank account, with police saying the amount taken was disproportionate to her lifestyle.
Police are continuing to investigate other matters linked to her death, and said they have had “exceptional cooperation from people within the medical industry” and the public.
“We’ve had over 74 calls to Crime Stoppers and we thank the people who have contacted us and it has made a significant contribution to the investigation,” Superintendent Bray said.
“We’re still unable to identify anybody who provided dental care to Annie at any stage her life, and we’d encourage any dentists out there who may have treated her at any point in her life to make contact with Crime Stoppers.
“The financial investigation remains ongoing and will take a considerable time to complete.”
Superintendent Bray said the investigation would now enter its “second phase” which “will expand and look at everyone else who was involved in the provision of care to Annie”.
“I can tell you we had appealed to a person called Pat to come forward who was a hairdresser,” he said.
“We have still been unable to locate any records of treatment by doctors, nurses and physios since 2014.”
On Monday, a Government task force established in response to Ms Smith’s death handed down its full report into disability safeguards.
It made seven recommendations, including for “vulnerable NDIS participants to have regular health checks”.