UPDATE: Woman convicted of the gross negligence manslaughter of her mother

|News, Domestic abuse

UPDATE: Therese Curphey was sentenced to four years' imprisonment on 30 April 2019.

A woman who left her 91-year-old mother lying in filth and injured for days has been found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter.

Therese Curphey, 53, was the sole carer for her vulnerable mother Teresa Curphey and they lived together at 19 Lydford Road in Liverpool. Teresa Curphey died at the Royal Liverpool Hospital on 20 February 2017.

The Crown Prosecution Service proved that, in the days leading up to her mother’s death, Ms Curphey allowed her mother to remain on the floor, inadequately clothed, in a cold house, with insufficient care and attention.

Fatal pressure sores developed and she was lying in her own filth, yet her daughter waited until the last minute to call an ambulance.

When the paramedics arrived at the house, Therese Curphey directed them to an upstairs bedroom but they struggled to get in as there were objects placed against the inside of the door.

As they entered there was a strong smell of human waste and they saw Curphey’s mother lying on the floor, dirty and cold, wailing and in distress.

The paramedics tried to talk to Curphey about her mother’s condition but found her difficult to communicate with. Curphey claimed her mother had fallen the night before and the only ailment that she described was a vitamin B12 deficiency.

They looked around the rest of the house and found bin bags full of household waste up to three feet high in most rooms.

Teresa Curphey was taken to hospital where it took staff about half an hour to clean her up. They found the elderly woman emaciated and with very serious pressure sores. She was pronounced dead by staff at 7pm that night.

A pathologist found she had died from Sepsis, hypothermia and skin ulcers. A police officer went with Therese Curphey as she left the hospital as there were already suspicions that a lack of care had led to the death of the defendant’s mother. A few hours later, she was arrested for the offence of wilful ill-treatment or neglect and taken to a nearby police station.

A jury at Liverpool Crown Court today (25/4/2019) unanimously found Ms Curphey guilty of the Gross Negligence Manslaughter of her mother. She will be sentenced on 1 May 2019.

Pascale Jones of CPS Mersey-Cheshire said: “This was a challenging case. The circumstances of Teresa Curphey's death were tragic.

“Her daughter, over a period of months, had declined offers of help from neighbours, social services and claimed to be the sole carer for her mother.

“She even decided to change her mother’s medication, in the belief she knew better than the doctor. She was the only person in the house to witness the deterioration of her mother’s health.

“The allegation that her mother had fallen on the bedroom floor the night before the paramedics were called was patently untrue. In fact Teresa Curphey has suffered a fall which caused three rib fractures at least one week before she was taken to hospital.”

Building the case

Pascale Jones: “As I reviewed the case, it was plain that an expert report about the development of the pressure ulcers was needed, so the Police were asked to obtain that evidence.

“The expert agreed with the pathologist that the deceased had been left on the floor for at least seven days. She would have been in extreme pain from her injuries.

“The defendant failed to act and seek the assistance her mother needed. This was a dismal dereliction of her duty of care.

“Although the defendant declined to answer questions in interview, she alleged that on two occasions she had the strength to pick her mother from the floor and put her on her cluttered bed. However, she claims that chronic fatigue prevented her from throwing the piles of bin bags and rubbish accumulated in her house.

“She tried to derail the proceedings before the trial and sought to blame third parties for her failings. The jury saw through this deceit and have found that Therese Curphey’s lack of care led to her mother’s death.”

Notes to editors

  • Pascale Jones is a Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS Mersey-Cheshire.

Further reading