A Hawkes Bay woman has been found guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life for her elderly mother and was slapped by another woman in court this morning.
Joanne Quinn, 51, was Maureen Quinn's eldest daughter and sole caregiver, and was on trial in the Napier District Court this week.
Medical staff discovered 82-year-old Maureen Quinn on November 15, 2011 imbedded in a couch and blanket with maggots covering her leg wounds.
Maureen died six weeks after being admitted to hospital on November 15, 2011 from bronchial pneumonia.
Prior to deliberations Quinn was approached by another woman and slapped, before the woman, believed to be a family member, fled from the court and was pursued by security. She managed to escape the court house.
During his deliberations Judge Jonathan Down said in the context of the case, nourishment, hydration and medical care were the necessaries of life.
Judge Down said the Crown argued Quinn clearly owed and had a duty to override the wishes of her mother and provide those necessaries of life.
"This is the sort of case that can give rise to the feelings of prejudice and sympathy," Judge Down said. "One only has to look at the photo evidence and listen to the medical witnesses."
"What I was struck by was a very broad and deep agreement by all the medical witnesses about the state and condition of [Maureen]."
He said all the medical evidence appeared reliant and consistent.
In findings of fact Judge Down said Maureen Quinn was severely dehydrated, severely malnourished and showed signs of severe neglect, while not being able to withdraw from her daughters care.
He said in light of "compelling medical evidence" he reached an "inevitable conclusion".
Judge Down was struck by one moment when witness Detective Toni Leppien gave an account of holding hands with Maureen Quinn in hospital.
"Your hand is so warm. I can't remember the last time someone touched," Maureen told the detective.
Judge Down said the 82-year-old was referring to the "warmth and comfort" that must have been missing from her home environment.
He said he had no doubt Maureen's life was in imminent danger and had she not been admitted to hospital on November 15, 2011 her death would have come at a much earlier stage.
"It was obvious to the defendant and to all, beyond any reasonable doubt, that much greater care was required."