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'Woman killed in nursing home rampage'

AAP logoAAP 23/11/2016 Rick Goodman

An elderly Adelaide woman was fatally bludgeoned in her nursing home bed by another female resident in a late-night rampage involving a chain and a walking frame, an inquest has heard.

Dorothy Mavis Baum died from blunt force injuries suffered at St Basil's Nursing Home in Christies Beach in 2012 and her death is now being investigated by the South Australian coroner.

The 93-year-old was found in her bed in the early hours of May 30 as blood pooled on the floor below.

"She had deep wounds to her hands, arms and face - some of them so deep as to expose muscle," counsel assisting Amy Cacas told the SA Coroner's Court in her opening address on Wednesday.

"Ultimately Ms Baum died of these injuries."

The court heard resident Rozalia Setalo, then 85, had inflicted the fatal injuries using a plastic-covered chain.

This chain hung from doorways to create a visual barrier to deter confused residents from entering.

Ms Setalo also attacked two other residents and a carer that same night, lashing out with her walking frame and punching one of them in the eye.

The court heard Ms Setalo, who has since died, was suffering from a urinary tract infection at the time and also had Alzheimer's disease.

Ms Cacas said UTI can change the behaviour of elderly people and make them confused, and combined with dementia was potentially "catastrophic".

A doctor said Ms Setalo also had tendencies of "sundowner syndrome", which causes dementia sufferers to be more prone to agitation after twilight.

"As the sun sets, they are less able to manage themselves and their behaviour - they become confused," Ms Setalo's general practitioner Dr David Searcy said.

He said his patient suffered episodes of agitation but she had managed it with medication. However, he was not aware of the UTI she had been suffering at the time of the fatal incident.

Ms Setalo was originally charged with murder and multiple counts of assault over the incident but the case was eventually dropped.

"There was no reasonable prospect of conviction," Ms Cacas said.

But the counsel assisting questioned why it had taken so long for the matter to arrive before the coroner, having been with police for more than three years.

The inquest continues with doctors, carers and nurses to give evidence over the coming days.

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