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Directors charged over neglect death of Ann Marie Smith

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Two directors of an Adelaide NDIS provider have been arrested and charged with criminal neglect over the shocking death of their client Ann Marie Smith in 2020.

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SA Police held a press conference a short time ago to announce that two directors of Integrity Care SA had been arrested for criminal neglect causing death, and failing to comply with a health and safety duty of care that exposed Ann Marie Smith to a risk of death, serious injury or illness.

The directors were taken into custody at the Adelaide City Watch House early this morning are expected to face an Adelaide court today.

The arrests follow what SA Police describes as a “milestone joint investigation” between it and SafeWork SA.

“It’s the first time that both agencies have co-located in such a manner to lead to the effective outcomes that we’ve seen thus far today,” Deputy Police Commissioner Linda Williams said.

“What we’d say is that when people accept a duty of care to look after those who are sick and vulnerable in our community, it demands and it rightly expects that they will deliver the highest standards of care to those people.

“In this case, we will allege that sadly, that did not occur and resulted in the death of Annie.”

Smith passed away in hospital in April 2020 after being found in her home suffering septic shock, multiple organ failure, severe pressure sores and malnourishment.

The 54-year-old had been found to be living in squalid conditions in her own home, largely confined to a cane chair, while under the care of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and an Adelaide agency, Integrity Care SA.

Despite Smith’s death on April 6 2020, the agency 10 days later applied to the State Government for a working with vulnerable people screening for Smith’s carer Rosa Maria Maione – which was granted.

Integrity Care SA also failed to tell the NDIS about the death of the client it was paid to care for, despite a requirement to do so within 24 hours.

The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission investigated the case and later revoked the agency’s registration and issued a banning order against it.

In March this year, Smith’s carer Maione was sentenced to five years in prison for manslaughter.

Months after Smith’s death, SA Police revealed  $35,000 worth of jewellery and two fridges were missing from the home.

Police also found a car registered in Smith’s name racked up $2000 in traffic fines even though she couldn’t drive.

Detective Superintendent Des Bray said this morning that police “have our own belief as to what happened with some of that, but there isn’t proof to progress any charges”.

He said an investigation into the thefts had ended.

“It would have been nice to have a result, but I think if you look at the end game it’s far better that those responsible for Annie’s care are held accountable for what they did or didn’t do,” he said.

“I am very, very happy with the results today.”

Bray said alongside the 94 calls to CrimeStoppers, police also received assistance from Integrity Care SA employees during its investigation.

He said there were “good carers who were employed by Integrity Care and who would have had no knowledge of what was occurring”.

“I would expect that there was a lot of carers working for Integrity Care who would have been horrified,” he said.

“We’re grateful for those people and realistically we’ve had a lot of cooperation from a lot of people in this case.”

Police say they will take about three months to finalise the brief of evidence against those charged.

Bray said police were not expecting to lay further charges on anyone at Integrity Care SA, but added: “We’ll see what happens over the next few months”.

Safe Work SA executive director Martyn Campbell said he was “100 per cent confident that we’ve done a really thorough, diligent and quality investigation”.

“I’ll be honest and say that it’s no secret that that wasn’t the case five or six years ago, but we are a very different organisation now to what we were then,” he said.

“(We’re) very confident that we did as much as we can to give the family some closure.”

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