Decomposing bodies of women, 74, and her 54-year-old son are found in their home
- A 74-year-old mother and 54-year-old son were found dead in their Dubbo home in 2016
- Both were severely degraded, meaning it cannot be said when they died
- They were equally decomposed, suggesting that they died around the same time
- An inquest would investigate anyone responsible for caring for the elderly
- The mother was hospitalized in June 2015 before checking herself on July 8
- A nurse who visited the home in September 2015 was rejected
The severely decomposed bodies of a 74-year-old woman and her 54-year-old son were found in their Dubbo home in early 2016, an inquest has heard.
A 74-year-old woman whose body was found in her NSW Central West home next to her 54-year-old son had checked herself from the hospital against doctor’s advice months earlier.
The two bodies had been severely disbanded when discovered on March 9, 2015, making it impossible to tell a cause or exact date of death, an inquest into the couple’s death on Monday.
The couple had no close relatives, and the son was his mother’s caregiver – a “challenging task” due to her dire needs, Elizabeth Raper SC, adviser to the judicial investigation, said in her opening report.
The mother and son are believed to have died at the same time
There was no sign of trauma to either body, nor an indication of suicide, said pathologist Jane Vuletic, who performed the post-mortem.
They had probably been dead for a week or more when they were found in their Dubbo home.
The bodies were equally decomposed, suggesting they died around the same time.
The mother was hospitalized in June 2015 and checked herself against medical advice on July 8.
She was seriously underweight, incontinent and had bedsores. When an ambulance took her to the hospital, she was lying in her own feces and urine, and the house was unkempt.
Both the mother and the son had a history of heavy drinking. She was unable to perform the basic tasks required to take care of herself, and doctors were concerned about neglect.
Despite these concerns, the hospital decided it had the capacity to make the decision to leave the hospital.
For the last few months of their lives, no one has monitored the couple, despite serious concerns about the woman’s well-being.
Ms. Raper said the inquest would investigate who, if any, is responsible for caring for older people if it appears that they have the capacity to make decisions, but there are still serious concerns about their safety.
Both had both been severely degraded, meaning it was impossible to pinpoint a cause and time of death
When a nurse visited the house in September 2015, the son refused them entry.
“She will be happy to see you tomorrow, too much is happening, too much action is being taken and we want to be left alone,” he told them, according to Ms. Raper.
Other nurses were denied access to the woman around the same time.
The public guardian was then appointed as the mother’s guardian for three months, but never made contact with the family.
After custody ended in January 2016, no one from a nursing organization who had previously cared for her, the public guardian or the Dubbo hospital where she was admitted, contacted the mother.
The latest calls from the house were made on February 16, 2016 with a Chinese restaurant and a taxi company.
The son was “devoted” to his mother, but clearly struggled with the burdens of taking care of her, Ms. Raper said.
The two cannot be named for legal reasons.
The judicial investigation continues.