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Friday, February 27, 2015

Old lady dies in freezing shipping container

At first glance, this story reeks of neglect of an elderly woman, but when you read all the facts, it isn't quite as bad as it sounds.

Jassy Anglin and her husband Michael Anglin were charged with the manslaughter of Jassy's mother, 78 year old Janet Mackozdi.

Ms Mackozdi came to live with her daughter's family on their property in Tasmania. She was very sick and needed constant care and help with eating, showering and using the toilet. She died one night of hypothermia in a shipping container when temperatures plunged to -3C.

On the night before she died, Ms Mackozdi had slept in the property's main four-room cabin with the Anglin family but on the night of her death, the couple put the old lady to bed in a shipping container, adjacent to the house, where two of their children also spent the night. But when temperatures dropped during that night, the grandmother passed away.

Her daughter was shocked and ashamed and thought the circumstances of her death would point to her mother's neglect, so instead of ringing an ambulance, the couple dressed her in a tracksuit, ugg boots, scarves and jacket and drove to the New Norfolk Hospital. But instead of telling the truth, they concocted a story that nobody believed -  that they had taken her on a trip to the National Park and she died sometime later.  But the autopsy proved that she died of hypothermia.

The couple relocated to Queensland and on 29th April 2014, faced Cairns Court. At the hearing, they were denied bail and flown back to Tasmania under police escort.  The Magistrate said they posed an unacceptable flight risk due to the seriousness of the charges and the evidence stacked against them.

Last Friday in Hobart Supreme Court Sassy Anglin 53 and her husband 56 year old Michael Anglin pleaded guilty to manslaughter.  Jassy finally admitted her mother had in fact died in the shipping container.

Crown Prosecutor Darryl Coates said the Crown was not suggesting the couple intended to harm Ms Mackozdi, in fact he said the case was a tragedy.

"A tragedy for the deceased, but I accept it's a tragedy for both accused" he said. "They've lost their mother, their children have lost their grandmother and on top of that they are facing a serious charge."

Michael Anglin cried as the couple's lawyer Tamara Jago told the court Ms Mackozdi's death was a consequence of one episode of gross misjudgment, but this was not a case of abuse.

Ms Jago said the couple were in the process of moving and because possessions were stacked up everywhere in the main building, it was thought for one night, Ms Mackozdi could sleep in the shipping container, adjacent to the house.  It would be for one night only.

Jassy Anglin dressed her mother in a beanie, socks, dressing gown, gave her a blanket and a doona and had a 3 bar heater on in the container.

"There was nothing sinister about the behavour of either of the accused" Ms Jago said and suggested to Justice Shan Tennent that a wholly suspended sentence would be appropriate.

The couple were released on bail and will face sentencing in April.