In the days before Bruce Rangitutia died, the man with cerebral palsy cried out to his carers from his bed "me hungry, me hungry".

Unable to move from extensive unexplained injuries and so desperate for water he drank his own urine, the 55-year-old's malnourished and skeletal body weighing just 42kg eventually gave up. He died on December 5, 2015.

Now, after a lengthy police investigation and after his body was exhumed following new evidence, his two Tokoroa caregivers have admitted charges of ill-treating a vulnerable adult by failing to feed him and seek medical care over a nearly two-year period.

Jovander Raymond Terry, who is the whāngai brother of Rangitutia, and his partner Annie Mathews are now behind bars awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in the Rotorua District Court on Tuesday.

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Terry admitted one charge of ill-treatment of a vulnerable adult by failing to feed and seek medical care for Rangitutia.

Mathews admitted two charges - failing to protect a vulnerable adult and failing to seek medical care for Rangitutia.

Details of the case have been released to the Rotorua Daily Post by the court.

Disabled man Bruce Rangitutia died in December 2015. His careers are charged with ill-treating him. Photo / Supplied
Disabled man Bruce Rangitutia died in December 2015. His careers are charged with ill-treating him. Photo / Supplied

Rangitutia, who had cerebral palsy and an intellectual disability, had spent most of his life in state-run care at Tokanui Hospital and Spectrum Care in Hamilton.

In 2014 when his mother died, Terry and Mathews elected to have Rangitutia move into their Tokoroa home.

Terry was paid a supported living benefit of $265.64 a week to look after Rangitutia.

When Rangitutia was discharged from Spectrum, he was described as overweight for his height, weighing more than 70kg.

In January 2015, Terry told a day facility Rangitutia would no longer be going there Monday to Friday, claiming he had toileting issues. This was a surprise to the centre's staff who never noticed this to be a problem, the police summary of facts said.

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In April 2015, Rangitutia was admitted to Tokoroa Hospital in a coma with a blood glucose level so low, he was near death. Staff described his body as looking like he had come from a "concentration camp". He weighed just 45.7kg.

It was found he had an unexplained reaction to anti-psychotic medication, which was later put down to the dose being too high for his much lighter body.

He was prescribed a high energy diet as well as Fortisip, a high calorie supplement. He put on more than 14kg during his nine-week hospital stay and reportedly enjoyed eating, often having two meals at a time, the summary said.

It was agreed Rangitutia would leave hospital and spend three months at a rehabilitation facility to gain weight. However, when Terry learned he would no longer get the weekly payment, he refused to let him go and instead took him home to Tokoroa.

Concerned about Rangitutia's care, hospital staff contacted his GP to ensure he followed up his wellbeing. The hospital also made a referral to a community social worker.

Terry took Rangitutia to his GP in July and promised he would keep in contact weekly but he never did.

Terry didn't respond to phone calls and letters, so in September social workers took police to Terry's home in an attempt to assess Rangitutia.

They found Rangitutia to be "very thin and bordering on gaunt". Terry said he had run out of Fortisip but was instead using Maori medicine and preferred to "do his own thing".

The social workers alerted the GP who made contact with Terry, who promised to keep in contact. Terry never did.

On September 28 a lawyer appointed to represent Rangitutia in relation to an application made by Terry to be the property manager and welfare guardian for Rangitutia made an unscheduled visit. Despite her requests to speak with Rangitutia alone, Terry remained in the room.

The lawyer called the GP on September 30, concerned about Rangitutia's weight. The GP informed her he had just sent a letter to Terry requesting weight information and giving them another three months' prescription for Fortisip.

An ambulance was called on December 8, 2015 to Terry and Mathews' Tokoroa home.

The summary said Mathews told police Terry rang 111 two to three hours after finding Rangitutia dead.

Bruce Rangitutia cried out for help, food and water from his bed in the days before he died. Photo / Supplied
Bruce Rangitutia cried out for help, food and water from his bed in the days before he died. Photo / Supplied

An ambulance paramedic noticed signs of rigor mortis and said the body looked "very gaunt with all his ribs visible". A doctor who performed the autopsy a day after he was found dead estimated Rangitutia died three days earlier, the summary said.

In 2017, Mathews, who along with Terry had initially denied knowing why Rangitutia was losing weight, changed her statement to police. She said Terry would fail to feed Rangitutia, despite his pleas he was hungry.

She said she would try to sneak him food and acknowledged she should have told someone what was happening but was scared.

Rangitutia's body was exhumed following Mathews' new evidence and a second autopsy was performed.

His cause of death was determined to be a brain bleed but it was difficult to find the pattern of the haemorrhage because of degenerative changes since he died.

It also found Rangitutia had several old and new injuries which were determined to be caused from blunt force trauma. His injuries included cuts on his face and mouth, bruises on his head, a haematoma on his left kidney and more than 20 rib fractures.

There were fractures on one of his vertebrae and on his pelvis that were at least "months" old and had recently been re-fractured.

The pathologist noted Rangitutia suffered from osteoporosis most likely stemming from being malnourished.

The summary said the exact cause of injuries were not known. However, it said they would have caused considerable pain and neither Terry nor Mathews sought help.

The pathologist also noted several bedsores, indicating poor care. He also had pneumonia, likely due to an inability to breathe deeply from rib fractures. The bedsores could have also contributed to bacteria entering his blood and reaching his lungs.

The charges Terry and Mathews face carry a maximum prison term of 10 years.

They will be sentenced on July 5.