Neglect case shock: Ann Marie’s jewellery is missing
Custom-made solid gold jewellery worth tens of thousands of dollars is missing from the Kensington Park home of disabled woman Ann Marie Smith, police have discovered.
Major Crime detectives have revealed they do not know the whereabouts of the distinctive handcrafted jewellery - worth more than $35,000 - and two refrigerators taken from her home.
While investigations are continuing to locate the items, detectives have not ruled out that they may have been sold either online or at a second-hand store.
The jewellery consists of distinctive claw hair clips, bangles and bracelets manufactured by an Adelaide jeweller between 2009 and 2015. While detectives found valuation certificates for the jewellery during a search of Ms Smith's home, none of the items has been located.
Major Crime case officer Detective Senior Sergeant Phil Neagle said the items were "very distinctive and quite valuable''.
"They are not the types of jewellery you would see anyone else wearing because they were made for Ann specifically,'' he said.
"They are unique. There are hair clips, bangles and each of them is worth between $3000 and $5000. It looks like they have gone missing over a period of time.''
Detectives believe there are six distinctive gold hair clips and five bangles and bracelets missing.
"They are custom items, the jeweller has never made these hair clips for any other client,'' he said.
Detectives also believe that an unknown quantity of jewellery that was given to Ms Smith following her mother's death in 2009 is also missing. Inquiries are underway to identify those items and their whereabouts.
Ms Smith, 54, died in Royal Adelaide Hospital on April 6, the day after her carer Rosemary Maione called an ambulance to Ms Smith's Kensington Park home.
Police launched a manslaughter investigation after it was revealed Ms Smith died of septic shock and multiple organ failure.
She had spent most of the year leading up to her death living in putrid conditions in a woven cane chair in the lounge room of her home. The cane chair and carpet underneath it was soaked in urine and faeces.
When admitted to hospital she was suffering severe pressure sores that were rotting, organ failure and malnutrition. After major surgery she was placed on palliative care and passed away the next day.
The major person of interest in the manslaughter inquiry is Ms Maione, 69, who was employed by provider Integrity Care (SA) Ltd, based at Edwardstown, until she was sacked days after police revealed their investigation was underway.
Ms Maione had been working as Ms Smith's carer for six years, despite not having obtained a disability services employment clearance as required under legislation. She was being paid to care for Ms Smith for six hours per day, seven days a week under the NDIS.
Integrity Care applied for the clearance following Ms Smith's death and it was granted on April 24, but it was subsequently cancelled on May 18 just days after the police investigation was revealed.
Police have also appealed for any medical practitioner or nurse who may have treated Ms Smith since 2015 or provided any medication to her to contact them.
The revelation Ms Smith's jewellery is missing comes the day after an interim report was released by a state government taskforce established to examine flaws in the system that resulted in her death.
The Safeguarding Task Force has made five recommendations and raised 12 areas of concern.
Two significant flaws identified that require urgent attention were that there was no requirement for care providers to allocate at least two workers to cater for each client and there was no requirement for carers to have regular supervision.
Each of those factors are highly relevant in Ms Smith's case as evidence indicates there was very little - if any - external supervision of her case over the six years Ms Maione was paid to care for her.
Snr-Sgt Neagle said despite intensive inquiries over the past month, none of the missing items had been located.
"It is possible they could have been sold simply for their gold weight or somebody has obtained them to wear,'' he said.
"They are valuable, they are unique, they are extremely distinctive and not something that is going to be owned by anyone else. There would not be any of these like this in Adelaide.''
Police have appealed for any second-hand dealer or outlet that purchases gold jewellery to come forward if they have either purchased the items or been offered them for sale over the past six years.
Similarly, anyone who may have purchased the items online is urged to contact police and assist the inquiry.
"We would also like to hear from anyone who may have seen anyone wearing items such as these in recent years,'' Snr-Sgt Neagle said.
He said inquiries were also underway to locate the missing refrigerators, which may also have been sold. One was a small bar refrigerator and the other a two door fridge/freezer.
"It is possible they were taken from the house either late last year or earlier this year,'' he said.
"We would like to hear from anyone who may either have seen this activity occurring at the house or may have purchased the items together or separately.''
He said no other furniture appeared to be missing from the house, which contained items including a lounge, flat-screen TV and table.
Ms Smith had previously lived with her parents at their Skye home until their death in 2009. Her parents had built the Kensington Park home for her and she moved there in 2010.
"They had thought about her future and provided for her. The house had been custom-built to cater for her needs with large living areas, it was specifically built for her needs,'' Snr-Sgt Neagle said.
Besides the state task force, the NDIS commissioner has launched an inquiry by retired Federal Court Judge Alan Robertson into Ms Smith's case. The NDIS Quality safeguards Commission is also investigating the conduct of Integrity Care and the state coroner will hold an inquest into the death following any criminal proceedings that may arise from the police investigation.
Anyone with any information on the missing jewellery or refrigerators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Originally published as Neglect case shock: Ann Marie's jewellery is missing