Two directors to face court charged with criminal negligence

Two directors of the company responsible for the care of Annie Smith have been charged with criminal neglect over her death in squalor – and been released on $20,000 bail agreements.

Amy-June Collins, 42, and Alison Maree Virgo, 40, were conveyed to the Adelaide City Watch House early on Friday morning.

Adelaide Magistrates Court documents reveal each has been charged with criminal neglect causing death over the April 2020 death of Ms Smith, who was a client of Integrity Care SA.

They have been further charged with failing to comply with a health and safety duty of care and exposing Ms Smith to a risk of death, serious injury or illness.

Integrity Care SA, the company itself, has also been charged with criminal neglect causing death and failing to comply with a health and safety duty of care.

All offences are alleged to have occurred between October 2019 and April 2020 at the company’s Kensington Park headquarters.

The duo are the second and third people arrested over Ms Smith’s death, following the successful prosecution of her assigned support worker, Rosa Maria Maione. Investigations into a third director, Philip John Greenland, are continuing.

Mr Greenland has yet to plead to one aggravated count of assault, which relates to allegations he spat in the face of a witness connected with the case. A second charge of threatening or intimidating a witness was withdrawn by prosecutors last month.

Maione is serving a prison term of six years, seven months for manslaughter after the Supreme Court found she was negligent, lazy and incompetent in her care of Ms Smith.

Integrity Care SA is facing separate proceedings in other legal jurisdictions.

Ms Collins and Ms Virgo appeared in court by video link just before 12.30pm on Friday.

Following negotiations between prosecution and defence counsel, each woman was released on $20,000 bail provided they surrendered their passports, do not leave the state or approach Adelaide Airport and have no contact with any potential witnesses in the case.

Ms Collins was bailed to an address at Huntfield Heights, while Ms Virgo was bailed to live at Bellevue Heights, however neither woman is subject to home detention conditions.

They will next appear in court in October.

Addressing the media on Friday morning, SA Police head of major crime Detective Superintendent Des Bray revealed a separate investigation into the whereabouts of property that belonged to Ms Smith had now concluded.

Police had earlier revealed significant quantities of gold jewellery and large amounts of cash vanished during the final months of her life, and her car racked up multiple fines even though she was unable to drive.

Det Supt Bray said the two people arrested on Friday were not suspects in that matter.

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

“And I’m very, very happy with the results today.”

Det Supt Bray said the next stage of the investigation will involve finalising the brief of evidence against those charged, which he said will take about three months.

He thanked the employees of Integrity Care SA who assisted investigators, as well as the 94 phone calls made to Crime Stoppers in relation to the matter.

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

However, he would not rule out laying further charges against other employees of Integrity Care SA.

SA Police Deputy Commissioner Linda Williams said the charges followed a “milestone joint investigation” between police and SafeWork SA.

“What we 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 standard of care to those people,” she said.

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

Police Minister Joe Szakacs and Human Services Minister Nat Cook welcomed the announcement that charges had been laid, and said the result was in line with the government’s “zero-tolerance approach” towards the neglect of those living with a disability.

“This is an appropriate first step in carrying out justice for Ann Marie Smith,” Mr Szakacs said.

Ms Cook added: “It sends a very strong message about the importance we place on those in our community who are marginalised.”

In August 2020, Integrity Care SA’s NDIS registration was revoked and it was banned from providing support and services.

Three months earlier, the company was fined $12,600 for failing to notify the NDIS Commission of Ms Smith’s death.

Ms Smith, 54, died from profound septic shock, multiple organ failure from severe pressure sores, and malnutrition after being admitted to the Royal Adelaide Hospital with severely ulcerated and infected tissue on her left hip, buttock and under a breast.

Maione left Ms Smith without adequate food and living in a putrid, almost sedentary state in a urine and faeces-soaked cane chair in the lounge room of her home for several months before her death.

Source: The Courier Mail

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