Ann Marie Smith relied on full-time care due to cerebral palsy. She died in April as a result of 'disgusting and degrading circumstances', police say.
Ann Marie Smith relied on full-time care due to cerebral palsy. She died in April as a result of 'disgusting and degrading circumstances', police say.

Cops investigate 'degrading' death of woman with disability

Police have launched a homicide investigation into the death of a woman with a disability in "disgusting and degrading circumstances" inside her Kensington Park home.

Ann Marie Smith, 54, died in the Royal Adelaide Hospital of profound septic shock, multiple organ failure from severe pressure sores and malnutrition on April 6.

Ms Smith, who had cerebral palsy, was admitted to hospital with severe ulcerated and infected tissue, which required major surgery, on April 5 when her carer called an ambulance.

Police said she also suffered other serious illnesses that developed while she was being cared for in her Bradman Court home, where her living conditions were found to be unacceptable.

Ann Marie Smith, 54, died in the Royal Adelaide Hospital on April 6. Picture: SA Police
Ann Marie Smith, 54, died in the Royal Adelaide Hospital on April 6. Picture: SA Police

Major Crime Investigation Branch officer-in-charge detective Superintendent Des Bray said Ms Smith's death was tragic and most likely preventable.

He said Ms Smith had lived alone since 2009, when her parents died, and was on an NDIS funded person-centred support plan because she was unable to walk or take care of herself.

"Despite living in a nice house, Ann died in disgusting and degrading circumstances," Supt Bray said.

"The outside of the house gives no indication as to the horrors that perhaps were occurring within it.

"She was living her days and sleeping at night in the same woven cane chair in the loungeroom for over a year with extremely poor personal hygiene.

"That chair had also become her toilet and there was no fridge in the house and investigators were unable to locate any nutritional food."

Supt Bray said police were conducting a manslaughter and coronial investigation after complaints to the Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner.

He said detectives on Friday interviewed the carer, who had been assigned to attend Ms Smith's home for six hours each day since 2013, and seized numerous items.

Investigators also seized documents from the care provider during a search of its offices last week. Supt Bray said there would be a significant focus on Ms Smith's financial affairs.

"We need to get to the bottom of everything that's happened and to do everything we can to make sure that something like this never happens again," Supt Bray said.

"The question for us is how did Ann become so unwell when she had a full-time carer and people who were entrusted with her care?"

Anyone with information about the death of Ms Smith should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or at crimestopperssa.com.au

Originally published as Death of woman with disability a major crime


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