A Tongan woman has denied in the Auckland High court claims she failed to take reasonable steps to prevent her husband before he died sitting in his own waste.
She has been accused of failing to provide her disabled husband with food, water and medical help before he died.
Malia Unalotokipea Li, who is aged in her 60s, was charged with manslaughter in relation to the death of her 48-year-old husband, Lanitola Epenisa, who died of blood poisoning in 2016.
“In his opening address at the High Court in Auckland, Crown prosecutor Jasper Rhodes said one of Epenisa’s bed sores, on his buttocks, was so bad it went through to the bone”, Stuff reported.
“He said after Epenisa’s death, police officers and ambulance staff moved him from the La-Z-boy chair he died in. Epenisa had fused to the chair”.
The court was told that in the years before his death, Epenisa had suffered from strokes.
The Crown alleges Li’s level of care for her husband was “grossly negligent”.
But defence lawyer Mark Ryan said his expert witness claims the pressure sores were very recent, and Li did not fail to take reasonable steps to prevent the sores from developing or worsening.
“The deceased was a very, very unhealthy person,” Ryan told the jury.
“As soon as those pressure sores became infected, there was no defence mechanism in his body able to stop blood poisoning.”
Ryan said the case was “tragic” and urged the jury to focus its attention on the pressure sores.
Epenisa did not die of starvation, from lack of water but from sepsis caused by pressure sores, Ryan said.
“He had once run a business building stone walls but when his health meant he could no longer work, the family moved in with relatives. The couple, who had been married nearly 20 years, lived in a room with their teenaged daughters”.
Epenisa died in Māngere, South Auckland from sepsis, a blood infection from untreated pressure sores on his buttocks sometime on the night between October 1 and 2, 2016, a jury heard..
“A level two NZQA national certificate in health and disability foundational skills obtained by Li in February 2014 was produced as evidence by the Crown”, the Herald said.
“The Crown alleges the qualification proves Li had some training and experience in caring for people in similar position to Epenisa”.
The trial before Justice Edwin Wylie has been set down for six weeks.
‘Oku lolotonga lele hono hopo’i ‘a e fefine Tonga ko Malia ‘Unalotokipea Li ‘a ia ‘oku ne ‘i hono ta’u 60 tupu’ tukuaki’i ki he mate hono husepāniti ko Lanitola ‘Epenisa ‘i he 2016. ‘Oku tukuaki’i ‘a Malia ki he’ene ta’etokanga ‘ikai ke ne fafanga, fakainu pe fakama’a ‘a ‘Epenisa, 48, lolotonga ne faingata’a’ia mamatea hono sino hili ‘ene pākalava. Na’e mate ‘a ‘Epenisa ‘oku tangutu pe ‘i he’ene tu’u mama’o’ ‘i hono sea ve’eteka, ‘a ia ne toki to’o pe mei ai ‘e he kau polisi’ mo e kau ‘ōfisa mei he me’alele fakavavevave ‘a e fale mahaki’. ‘Oku faka’ikai’i kotoa ‘e Malia ‘a e tukuaki’i’ ni pea ‘oku lolotonga lele ‘ene hopo ‘i he High Court ‘a ‘Okalani fakafuofua ki ha uike ‘e ono.