WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
THE CULPABILITY of a carer who killed his fiancee by letting her rot to death in a recliner in Nundle has come under question.
The 53 minutes between when Neil Douglas Morris made a call to a community nurse and the time the victim was sent to hospital in a serious condition could be judged the only period of time he failed to deliver sufficient medical care.
Morris, 60, walked out of Tamworth District Court on Friday afternoon where he had expected to be sentenced.
Instead, the proceedings opened with a heartfelt address from Judge Jeffery McLennan to the victim's loved ones.
"The court empathises with your loss and your lack of understanding about how such a loss might occur," he said.
"However it is expressed or whatever it is that is said to be the appropriate outcome for Mr Morris, it is not in any way ever going to compensate you for your loss and will not be commensurate with the life of your sister and sister-in-law.
"Whatever it is I choose to do, do not think for one moment that it in any way devalues the life of the person that you loved."
The relationship between the pair was one where the victim was 'strong willed' and was the dominant decision maker about her own health, the court heard, while Morris was inclined to be 'passive' and 'acquiescent'.
The deceased signed her will and estate over to Morris three weeks prior to her death, the court heard.
It is not argued to be a motive for the decline of the victim's health.
The law states that for as long as the victim remained a competent adult, she was entitled to refuse medical treatment.
Where Morris' culpability for the death comes into question is whether or not he failed to seek medical help for the victim once she was no longer able to make rational choices.
"What we're confronted with was a man who deeply loved his wife and acquiesced to her wishes, explicably allowing this decline of [the victim]," Judge McLennan said.
"Mr Morris up until the serious decline was doing what might be described as his incompetent best but no other medical person seems to have taken the responsibility themselves."
The morbidly obese victim was left without food or water for 72 hours and became hostile when the issue of hospitalisation was raised by Morris, the court heard.
A pathology collector arrived on the morning of July 13, 2017, and reported to a community nurse that the victim was "not well".
By the time a community nurse arrived that afternoon, the victim had deteriorated to the point where she had "sunken eyes" and was covered in "small, midge-like insects". Her legs wept fluid onto the floor, police evidence showed.
Whatever it is I choose to do, do not think for one moment that it in any way devalues the life of the person that you loved.Judge Jeffery McLennan
A wound on the 75-year-old victim's back had decayed so much that her spinal bones were visible, at Tamworth hospital doctors decided they were too severe to survive and placed her in palliative care.
On the way to the hospital the victim believed it was still 1974.
The wound on her back was likely present for months, a coroner's report showed.
The victim died on July 16, 2017.
Morris, 60, had collected a Centrelink carer's payment for his fiancee since 2012.
After the death of the victim, police evidence claimed Morris had noticed the bugs and fluid near her wounds, he made mention of the fact he "did his best" but was not a doctor or vet.
Morris became annoyed when the soiled sling used to lift the victim out of her chair would not be returned to him because it would "cost him money," police evidence showed.
The matter will return to Tamworth District Court in June.