Bruce Rangitutia pleaded to his whāngai brother for food and was so dehydrated he drank his own urine in the days before he died.

The 55-year-old who had cerebral palsy and an intellectual disability had lost 40 per cent of his body weight since Jovander Raymond Terry became his primary caregiver in 2014.

Rangitutia cried out "me hungry, me hungry" to Terry and his partner Annie Mathews, but by December 5 2015, he was dead.

Jovander Raymond Terry. Photo / Stephen Parker
Jovander Raymond Terry. Photo / Stephen Parker

Rangitutia was put into the Tokoroa couple's care after his mother died, but he was starved.


His weight fell from 70kg to 42kg while he lived with them.

In April this year, Terry admitted one charge of ill-treatment of a vulnerable adult by failing to feed and seek medical care, and Mathews admitted failing to protect a vulnerable adult and failing to seek medical care for Rangitutia.

Judge Maree MacKenzie sentenced Terry to six years and seven months in prison and Mathews to four years, ten months and two weeks, in the Rotorua District Court this afternoon.

Judge MacKenzie said Terry showed "an unparalleled degree of callousness" and Mathews "turned a blind eye".

"This is conduct which must be strongly condemned," she told them.

"This was extremely cruel".

Annie Mathews. Photo / Stephen Parker
Annie Mathews. Photo / Stephen Parker

Terry looked at the ground while he was sentenced, while Mathews faced Judge MacKenzie with a blank stare.

Crown lawyer Amanda Gordon said Mathews was a "much lesser offender" and was subject to violence from Terry, which "impacted on her ability to intervene ... but there was opportunities for her to get help".

Crown prosecutor Amanda Gordon. Photo / File
Crown prosecutor Amanda Gordon. Photo / File

Defence counsel Peter Birks argued she showed symptoms of 'battered woman syndrome'.

Judge MacKenzie said Terry was abused in state care and had "spent his adult life in and out of prison" but showed no remorse.

She said Mathews did not show "genuine remorse" but had an "extremely limited" criminal history.

The couple were charged last year after new evidence prompted police to exhume Rangitutia's body, and a second autopsy was carried out.

The story of abuse

Terry was paid a supported living benefit of $265.64 a week to look after Rangitutia, who needed full-time care.

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 body weight.

Bruce Rangitutia. Photo / Supplied
Bruce Rangitutia. Photo / Supplied

Rangitutia was prescribed a high energy diet and Fortisip, a high-calorie supplement.

He put on more than 14kg during his nine-week hospital stay and 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, Terry refused to let him go and instead took him home to Tokoroa when he learned he would no longer get the weekly payment.

Concerned hospital staff contacted Rangitutia's 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 to keep in contact weekly but he never did.

Bruce Rangitutia. Photo / Supplied
Bruce Rangitutia. Photo / Supplied

He 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 discovered he was "very thin and bordering on gaunt".

Terry said he had run out of Fortisip but was instead using Māori 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 but never did.

On September 28 2015, a lawyer appointed to represent Rangitutia concerning an application Terry made to be the property manager and Rangitutia's welfare guardian, made an unscheduled visit.

Terry remained in the room despite the lawyer's requests to speak with Rangitutia alone.

She called the GP on September 30, concerned about Rangitutia's weight.

The GP said he had just sent a letter to Terry requesting weight information, with another three months' prescription for Fortisip.

An ambulance was called on December 8, 2015, and Rangitutia was found dead.

A paramedic said Rangitutia's body looked "very gaunt with all his ribs visible".

A day after, a doctor who performed an autopsy estimated Rangitutia died three days earlier, the summary said.

The second autopsy also found Rangitutia had several old and new injuries which were determined to be caused by blunt force trauma.

Rotorua District Court. Photo / File
Rotorua District Court. Photo / File

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.

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

The summary of facts said the exact cause of injuries was 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.

Gilli Sinclair, chief executive of the Cerebral Palsy Society. Photo / Supplied
Gilli Sinclair, chief executive of the Cerebral Palsy Society. Photo / Supplied

Cerebral Palsy Society of NZ chief executive Gilli Sinclair said it was "an incredibly sad situation".

"Of course the family are responsible but everyone is also responsible for our more vulnerable members of our society... Many families' greatest fear is that something will happen to the parents and no one will be available to look after their loved one.
We all need to step up as a society to protect our more vulnerable."

The Waikato District Health Board would not comment on the outcome of today's sentence, Ron Dunham, interim chief operating officer said.

Ron Dunham, Waikato DHB interim chief operating officer. Photo / File
Ron Dunham, Waikato DHB interim chief operating officer. Photo / File

"To protect patient privacy the DHB cannot provide comment to the media on individual cases but the DHB wishes to extend its condolences to the family of Mr Rangitutia in what has been a very sad and awful situation."

In May this year, Amanda Gordon told the Rotorua Daily Post the Crown considered laying more serious charges against the couple, however, "He [Rangitutia] died as the result of probable rupture of a vein in his brain, and the medical evidence could not establish the cause of that."