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Trial opens on elderly woman's grim death

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 19/07/2016

Three people are standing trial in Auckland on charges including manslaughter over the alleged neglect of an elderly Chinese woman, who died surrounded by her own filth.

Ena Lai Dung, 77, weighed only 29kgs when she died half-naked in her bed on January 16, 2015 covered in bed sores, with fractures and chemical burns from her own faeces and urine.

Her daughter Cindy Taylor, 43, is accused of manslaughter and dishonesty offences, while wife and husband Luana Taylor, 56, and Brian Taylor, 62, are charged with failing to protect a vulnerable adult.

Cindy Taylor and her mother were boarding with the couple at their Manurewa house when she died.

In her opening address on Tuesday, Crown prosecutor Natalie Walker said Luana Taylor made a 111 call on the night of Ms Dung's death, saying she had a feeling the woman had died, but could not check on her as she was wheelchair-bound.

The ambulance operator then asked Cindy to check on her mother and move her to the floor to perform CPR, but she refused.

Luana then told the operator CPR was against their religion, and said the operator was stressing her out, Ms Walker said.

Ms Walker alleged all three defendants knew Ms Dung was dead when the 111 call was made, and were only making an appearance of caring.

When ambulance officers arrived, they were overpowered by the strong smell of ammonia coming from Ms Dung's room, and had to leave her room twice due to the smell.

There were bruises on her wrists, she was extremely emaciated, there was no linen on her bed, just a green plastic sheet covered in faeces.

Police were called and Cindy told them she had been feeding her mother, who had suffered bulimia for years, but in the days before her death she had refused to eat.

Cindy said she tried to force her mother to at least swallow water.

She said her mother was prone to being dramatic, falling over on purpose and playing mind games, and she had refused to see doctors, Ms Walker said.

A post-mortem revealed Ms Dung had died from dehydration and malnutrition. She had 14 fractures to her ribs and one to her sternum that could have been weeks old, according to a pathology report.

She had faecal and urine staining to her skin, and smelled of gangrene.

Ms Walker said the pathologist determined Ms Dung had no pre-existing diseases that would have contributed to her death.

The trial is set down for up to three weeks.

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