An elderly woman who died in a freezing shipping container at her daughter and son-in-law’s property in Tasmania was exploited financially by the pair for years and denied proper care, a coroner has found.
The state government has been urged to adopt a host of reforms to better prevent elder abuse after an inquest into the July 2010 death of Janet Mackozdi.
The 77-year-old, who had advanced dementia, died of hyperthermia while in the care of her daughter Jassy Anglin and husband Michael Anglin at Mount Lloyd northwest of Hobart.
The couple were in 2015 convicted of Ms Mackozdi’s manslaughter.
In findings published on Thursday, coroner Olivia McTaggart revealed the Anglins had rejected offers of medical help, isolated Ms Mackozdi from her GP and refused nursing home care.
They spent three-quarters of her estate – roughly $350,000 – in ways designed to avoid detection.
“Had Mr and Mrs Anglin utilised just a small proportion of Mrs Mackozdi’s money to build her a heated unit, she would not have died,” Ms McTaggart wrote.
“Had she been receiving the care, treatment and services that she required, she may have lived for some years to come.”
Jassy and Michael Anglin leave court in 2015. Photo: ABCInstead, the Anglins spent her money on groceries, clothes, fast food and at restaurants.
There was also evidence of money going towards family holidays, including a trip to Melbourne’s Luna Park without Ms Mackozdi.
The coroner rejected the Anglins’ evidence that they were spending Ms Mackozdi’s money the way she wanted.
The shipping container where Ms Mackozdi spent one fatal night was not insulated and had gaps around the door and windows.
It is estimated the temperature inside dropped as low as minus 1C overnight.
The Anglins found Mr Mackozdi’s body the next morning but didn’t report her death for several hours.
At the time of her death she weighed less than 38kg and completely depended on her daughter and family for all needs, Ms McTaggart wrote.
Mrs Anglin worked as a nurse and Mr Anglin a disability worker.
Ms McTaggart described the case as a sad example of elder abuse, warning the issue was of increasing concern in Tasmania as the state’s population ages.
Among six recommendations, she wants the state government to set up an specific independent body responsible for investigating elder abuse and increase resources and review legislation in the area.
The state government has said it will carefully consider the coroner’s findings.