Woman who starved to death had eating disorder - co-accused

9:59 pm on 26 July 2016

The flatmate of a woman found starved to death in her own bed told a police officer that the woman had an eating disorder.

Entrance to the High Court in Auckland

High Court in Auckland Photo: justice.govt.nz

Ena Dung was found dead, lying in her own waste and partially naked and weighing just 29kg, in January last year.

Luana Taylor and her husband Bryan lived with Ms Dung and Ms Dung's daughter in a three-bedroom home in Manurewa.

The couple are charged with failing to protect Ms Dung, despite knowing she was in danger.

Ms Dung's daughter, Cindy Taylor, who is not related to Luana and Bryan Taylor, is charged with manslaughter and withdrawing her mother's pension after she died.

Luana Taylor told Detective Matthew Kay that Ms Dung was obsessed with her weight and had suffered from bulimia for years.

That evidence is in direct contrast to Ms Dung's doctor of 29 years who told the court earlier this morning that Ms Dung had never suffered from an eating disorder.

Dr Michael Bleackley said his former patient had a constant healthy weight.

Luana Taylor - who uses a wheelchair - also told police that she and her husband had an agreement with Cindy Taylor that Cindy would look after her mother. She described the 77-year-old as stubborn and had said Ms Dung wanted to die.

In the recorded DVD interview, played to the court, Luana Taylor said at one point Cindy was crying and later told her Ena had smeared faeces on the wall. On another occasion, Cindy Taylor complained about having to clean up maggots.

"They didn't get along. They never did. They can't kill each other, I can't see that... I give up, I may be wrong... Oh God, I just can't believe this."

Mr Kay said Luana Taylor initially told him that Ena Dung complained of being hit by her daughter. When Mr Kay further questioned her about that, she answered: "Ena is an actress, Cindy is not. She did her best by her mother and she didn't have to."

Luana Taylor told Mr Kay that she couldn't hear anything from the lounge room when the doors were closed and the television was on but Mr Kay queried how she could say that when she had already spoken about hearing someone being punched.

Luana Taylor responded: "You've just gone from being a nice cop to being a nasty cop. I haven't done anything."

She also denied being able to smell anything from the living room where she said she and her husband slept on couches.

Mr Kay also told her about a report from pathologist Dr Fintan Garavan, who found Ms Dung had 14 fractured ribs and a broken breastbone.

Luana Taylor said that could have been caused by Ms Dung throwing herself on the floor. "She was a drama queen".

The interview ended shortly after Mr Kay asked Luana Taylor, if she could smell things and hear things, why she hadn't done anything.

Luana Taylor said that question should be put to Cindy Taylor.

Earlier Mr Kay gave evidence about an earlier interview he did with Luana Taylor when she was considered a witness.

He said Luana Taylor spoke of having a premonition that Ms Dung would die.

She also told him that Ms Dung refused to see a doctor and refused to eat. She also spoke of smelling something "not right" coming from Ms Dung's room at the end of the hallway and that the household had gone through 17 cans of air freshener recently. She said she had not seen Ena alive in the two months leading up to her death.

Under cross-examination from Luana Taylor's lawyer, Maria Mortimer, Mr Kay confirmed he didn't take a verbatim word-for-word statement. He also did not record the questions.

But Mr Kay said Luana Taylor's statement was jumbled and did not follow a chronology so he took bullet points before writing up a draft statement and showing it to her.

Today's evidence was cut short when Luana Taylor required medical assistance, following the afternoon's adjournment.

Tomorrow the Crown is due to call its last witnesses in the case.