By Loukas Founten.
A woman has been found not guilty of manslaughter after leaving her elderly mother on the floor with no food or water for seven days after she fell over.
Josephine Peake, 82, was found dead in the bathroom of her Fulham Gardens home in Adelaide’s west in October 2014.
Nearly a year later her daughter, Michelle Catherine Peake, 56, was charged with criminal neglect.
That charge was upgraded to manslaughter this year but Ms Peake was today found not guilty in the Supreme Court by reason of mental incompetence.
In a police statement read to court, Ms Peake said she came home on Friday, October 10, 2014 to find her mother lying down outside on the back step.
She said she helped her inside but could not lift her.
“I said to mum I was going to call the doctor. I didn’t know how long she was on the ground before I arrived,” the statement read.
“I said to mum ‘I should get you an ambulance’ but she kept saying she would be alright.”
In a police interview played in court filmed the day of her mother’s death, Ms Peake clarified what happened.
“She kept telling me to go about my plans so that’s what I was doing,” she explained.
“I genuinely think she believed that she would be right shortly.”
The 82 year-old lay on the kitchen floor for seven days before managing to make her way to the bathroom before she died.
A police officer told the court Ms Peake showed little emotion as she explained what happened.
“She was showing no expression, no emotion and she was very keen to make her toast,” Constable Natasha Altamura said.
Daughter eats at table alongside dying mother
Over the next week Ms Peake went to a concert and a book club meeting, and at various times sat at a table, next to her mother who remained on the floor, as she ate meals.
The older lady had nothing to eat or drink, but Ms Peake said her mother kept telling her she was OK and would get up soon, even refusing medical help.
“She kept saying ‘no, no, no’. For whatever reason she didn’t want to go to hospital. She was protesting about it, ” Ms Peake told police in her interview.
“I thought she might refuse to go and that would have been an even more horrendous scene.
“When I raised [calling an ambulance] with her she’d reject it so I hadn’t mentioned it since Tuesday but when I went to wake her and couldn’t, that was the point when I did.”
The police interviewer asked Ms Peake why she never offered her mother a blanket or any food or drink.
“I didn’t think she could eat or drink where she was and didn’t think I could get her into a position where she could,” she said.
“I couldn’t move her. I know I should have [called an ambulance] but I genuinely didn’t think it was as serious as it was. I didn’t think I’d wake up this morning and she would be dead.”
“It’s very difficult when someone keeps telling you ‘love, I’ll be alright in a minute’.”
A term of psychiatric supervision will be set at a hearing at a later date.
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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