'I never denied her anything' - manslaughter accused

6:17 pm on 2 August 2016

A woman accused of letting her mother starve to death in her own waste left her for up to 10 days, the Crown says.

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Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Ena Dung was 76-years-old when she died of dehydration and malnutrition last year and was found lying dead and half-naked on a deeply stained mattress in the home she shared with her daughter and two flatmates.

But Cindy Taylor - who is charged with her mother's manslaughter - has told the court she loved her mother and there was no way she killed her.

At the High Court in Auckland today, Crown prosecutor Natalie Walker asked Cindy Taylor how her mother could have got necrotic ulcers, gangrenous open wounds and chemical burns from her own waste, had she been properly cared for and cleaned in the final days of her life.

She also pointed to the pathologist's report which found Ena Dung died of malnourishment and dehydration and that she would have received no water in the four or five days before her death -despite it being the height of summer.

Cindy Taylor responded: "She's the one who refused to take any fluids or refused to eat any food. So if it's you saying I failed to provide necessities for my mother, it's wrong.

"I never denied her anything. All I ever did was try to show her, and try to be the daughter she wanted me to be. I wanted to show her I could do this and look after her."

Cindy Taylor said Luana and Brian Taylor - her flatmates and friends charged with failing to get Ms Dung help - had actually gone out of their way to help her family.

"This is a woman who chose to refuse in the end to take anything and I'm getting blamed for that? It is not right. I loved by Mum but I would not kill her."

Ms Walker took Ms Taylor through the disturbing autopsy photographs of her mother.

"Your mother, on the 16th of January when this phtograph was taken, was incredibly emaciated, wasn't she?"

Cindy Taylor: "She does look thin there."

Natalie Walker: "No, not just thin, emaciated. There's a difference. Do you understand the difference?"

Cindy Taylor: "I think I do."

Cindy Taylor later said the photographs made her mother appear thinner than she was because of her position and the poor lighting in the room.

She said her mother was defecating and urinating in her bed on purpose and was playing games but she would clean her daily, despite working long hours and carrying out various cleaning chores around the house.

Ms Walker said Ms Dung weighed just 29kg when she died - she was emaciated and had no muscle tissue. "It would be impossible for her to have walked, stood up. Would you accept that?"

Cindy Taylor responded: "I suppose so".

As well as her wasted appearance, Ms Dung had 14 fractured ribs and a fractured breast bone.

Ms Walker said Ms Dung would have been in severe pain and would have been unable to use the toilet on her own.

But Cindy Taylor denied all knowledge of the fractures and said there were occasions when her mother purposefully fell over, including one episode when she fell down the steps.

She said she helped her mother up but there was no sign of her being in pain.

Following Cindy Taylor's evidence, the Crown was able to call one last witness, police handwriting expert, Patricia James.

Her evidence is relevant to other charges Cindy Taylor faces, related to misusing her mother and uncle's eftpos cards after they'd died.

She's accused of withdrawing over $36,000 of their pensions after their deaths.

Cindy Taylor has produced a document which she says is a signed agreement between her, her mother and her uncle which gave her permission to take the money.

But the Crown says it is a fake.

Ms James analysed Ms Dung's signature from documents, including her bank account authority.

She said a signature was a specific part of handwriting behaviour and there were a number of obvious signs, including the number of strokes, the pressure used and the spacing between the letters which give them their own characteristics.

She described the signature on the document as being "a complete spaghetti junction" in parts and concluded it was not genuine and likely to have been traced from an original.

Jurors are due to hear Ms Walker make closing arguments for the Crown's case tomorrow.