Ms Smith had been left in a chair for more than a year.
Ms Smith had been left in a chair for more than a year.

‘Disgusting’: How woman was left to rot

WARNING: Graphic

From the outside, there was nothing unusual about Ann Marie Smith's house.

None of her neighbours knew that inside the Adelaide home the 54-year-old sat in the same woven cane chair for more than a year, with no fridge, fresh food and unable to go to the toilet.

When police discovered her rotting body, the scene was so graphic they struggled as they described it.

The cerebral palsy sufferer died last month after being admitted to hospital suffering from septic shock, severe pressure sores, multiple organ failure and malnutrition.

But Ms Smith was supposed to be under full-time care through the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Now her carer, provided through private company Integrity Care, has been sacked over "serious and wilful misconduct".

"We trusted our carer and believe that we have been completely misled by her," the company said in a statement.

Paramedics were called to the Kensington Park home after another carer found Ms Smith.

She had severe ulcerated and infected tissue and was only semiconscious.

Ms Smith was taken to Royal Adelaide Hospital where she had major surgery to remove the rotting flesh but she died the next day.

"Despite living in a nice house, Ann died in disgusting and degrading circumstances," Detective Superintendent Des Bray said on Friday.

"The outside of the house gives no indication as to the horrors that perhaps were occurring within it.

No one knew of the horrors inside Ann Marie Smith’s home.
No one knew of the horrors inside Ann Marie Smith’s home.


"She was living her days and sleeping at night in the same woven cane chair in the loungeroom for over a year with extremely poor personal hygiene.

"That chair had also become her toilet and there was no fridge in the house and investigators were unable to locate any nutritional food."

On Friday police declared her death a major crime and opened a manslaughter investigation.

"We need to get to the bottom of everything that's happened and to do everything we can to make sure that something like this never happens again," Supt Bray said.

"The question for us is how did Ann become so unwell when she had a full-time carer and people who were entrusted with her care?"


Ms Smith had lived alone since 2009 after her parents died.

She was on an NDIS funded plan because she was unable to walk or take care of herself.

Supt Bray said she hadn't used her wheelchair and possibly had not left the house for "a number of years".

He said Ms Smith had a brother but they had not been in contact for some time.

On Friday detectives interviewed her carer who they say had been assigned to visit her home for six hours each day since 2013.

Integrity Care was officially sanctioned over breaches of the NDIS scheme.

The company said it was "determined to find out what went terribly wrong".

"Like everyone in the community, we were shocked and appalled to hear about the death of Ann-Marie Smith," it said.

"Patient care is at the heart of everything we do."

Ms Smith had been left in a chair for more than a year.
Ms Smith had been left in a chair for more than a year.


They have since done welfare check on all other clients under the care of the same employee and all of them were in good health.

They have appointed an independent expert to review every NDIS participant in their care.

"We encourage anyone with relevant information or concerns to contact CrimeStoppers or the NDIS," it said.

Supt Bray said there would be a significant focus on Ms Smith's financial affairs.

They have searched the carer's home and seized items for investigation.

Neighbour Bram Fynnart told media at the scene they had not seen Ms Smith for more than a decade.

"We saw her initially in a wheelchair outside in the sun, but apart from that in the last 10 or 11 years we haven't seen her," he said.

Opposition human services spokeswoman Nat Cook said Ms Smith's death was "a mammoth tragedy".

"It's appalling to think of the suffering that Ann Marie Smith went through," she said.

Premier Steven Marshall said on Saturday that state-based audits and more oversight of disability services could be introduced in the wake of Ms Smith's "sickening death".

"Even the basic details of this are extraordinarily confronting," he said.



Originally published as 'Disgusting': How woman was left to rot

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