As reported by 7News, Queensland District Court heard this week that carer, Michelle Stitt, and the 78-year-old woman she cared for lived together on a property in Tarampa, Queensland, in conditions described in court as “diabolical” and “squalid”.
Stitt, who was paid by the state government to care for the woman between 2017 and 2019, pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to supply the necessaries of life.
When police attended the property in 2019, they were distressed by the unhygienic conditions they encountered, and were forced to put biohazard measures in place for their protection. The terrible conditions contributed to the older woman’s injuries, police alleged.
Stitt’s own defence barrister described the condition of property where the two women lived as “diabolical”.
Judge Dennis Lynch QC, said, “The conditions were, perhaps to put it neatly, squalid.”
“This isn’t a case of someone living in luxury while the person they’ve been charged with caring for lives in these squalor conditions.
“It was squalor all round.”
“This is, in my respectful submission, an example of a failing of not only the defendant, but a failing of the system,” said Wallis.
“She was left largely unchecked and things got really out of control when the defendant didn’t do anything about it.
“She says she tried but her efforts weren’t sufficient,” the court heard.
“She certainly doesn’t appear to have had the support that might have otherwise brought this to the attention of authorities earlier,” 7News reported.
Carer was struggling
Defence barrister Simon Lewis said Stitt struggled to care for herself, let alone care for anybody else.
“[There was] very little difference between the way my client was living, to the way in which the complainant was living,” he said.
Jail not suitable
Lewis said Stitt should receive a probation order rather than jail, and Wallis agreed jail would make it difficult for Stitt to recover from her mental health condition.
Stitt “desperately … needs support” and would “struggle” if sent to custody, Wallis said.
Stitt’s sentence will be handed down on May 20.
If you or someone you know is struggling to cope or having a difficult time, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.