Don’t treat her like that

The law has been aware of the problem of elder abuse for several years. A case from Florida suggests that this concern has not yet reached the Bench

Karen Passmore died on the afternoon of 6 August 2015. She was aged 57 years. She had been dependent on others to care for her since suffering a stroke in 1993. Her daughter, Jackie Passmore, had been responsible for her care following the death of Karen’s husband Bill in 2014.

J Passmore
Jackie Passmore (Image from here)

At the time of her death Karen weighed 58 pounds (about 26 kilos). According to the arrest record of Santa Rosa County Sherriff’s Office she was found in a room which –

smelled of trash and rotting flesh. There were gnats swarming through out the room around old food and bags of soiled adult diapers. The decedent, Karen Passmore, was found to be extremely emaciated, filthy, and having numerous pressureulcers (bed sores). The worst of the pressure ulcers were infected and gangrenous. One of the wounds appeared to have been dressed using disposable shop towels and painter’s tape. It was immediately apparent that the decedent had critically needed medical care.

The record notes that some of the pressure ulcers had eaten away to the underlying bone*.

Jackie Passmore was charged with aggravated manslaughter of a disabled adult

A person who causes the death of any elderly person or disabled adult by culpable negligence … commits aggravated manslaughter of an elderly person or disabled adult, a felony of the first degree….

She was convicted by a jury in the Santa Rosa County Circuit Court. Despite a facing possible maximum term of imprisonment of thirty years, it appears she was not given a custodial sentence (although it seems she was detained while the charges were pending).

State v Passmore (2017), Northwest Florida Daily News, 4 August 2017

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* Readers in Commonwealth jurisdictions will note the parallels with R v Stone and Dobinson [1977] 1 QB 354.