Taranaki couple jailed for neglect of elderly victim

by Deena Coster, Stuff, 28 October 2016

Ms Coster reports on the very sad case of elder abuse that has led to two people being jailed.

A Taranaki couple responsible for the horrendous neglect of a woman in her 90s have been jailed for two years and nine months.

Terrence Peter Heppell, 65, and Erica Beth Heppell, 66, both from Tikorangi, near Waitara, were prosecuted for the ill treatment of Beatrice Emily Heppell, who is now 93.  The victim is the mother of Terrence Heppell and the mother-in-law of Erica Heppell.

In October 2014, Beatrice Heppell was found by ambulance staff lying in bed, the mattress and bedding soiled with her excrement.

She was in an extremely unkempt physical state with dried mucus around her eyes, mould growing under her breasts, dirty skin and long, grimy nails.

On admission to hospital, staff catalogued a series sores and wounds, including the most serious, which was located near the woman’s sacrum and measured 11 centimetre by 8cm and was 4 cm deep.  The woman had also suffered a dislocated right shoulder.  Medical staff believed the wounds were 3-4 weeks old.

A subsequent police search of the victim’s bedroom found it in a filthy state. Faeces were found on top of the mattress along with newspaper, which was also damp with urine.  The mattress, which was close to disintegrating, was also severely stained. 

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Age Concern provides free and confidential Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention Services for older people and their carers, providing support and advocacy so that older people can be happy, healthy and safe.

Click here for contact details.