Young Leeds Man Dies, Left to 'Rot to Death' British Court Hears, Mother Accused of Manslaughter

Published June 7th, 2018 - 09:00 GMT
(Shutterstock/File Photo)
(Shutterstock/File Photo)

A malnourished 18-year-old boy died in squalid conditions on his living room floor after being left to 'rot to death' by his mother, sister and grandmother, a court heard today.

Jordan Burling weighed little more than six stones when paramedics found him lying on a filthy inflatable mattress, wearing a soiled nappy and covered in pressure sores.

He died as a result of malnutrition, immobility and infection-riddled sores after being 'allowed to decay' for several weeks before his death, it is alleged.

His body was likened to those of prisoners held in WWII extermination camps, Leeds Crown Court heard on Wednesday.

His mother Dawn Cranston, 45, sister Abigail Burling, 25, and grandmother Denise Cranston, 70, are accused of manslaughter in his death.

Shockingly, the jury also heard how a police search of the house uncovered the body of Dawn Cranston's full-term newborn baby, which had been stuffed into a rucksack.

Opening the case, prosecutor Nicholas Lumley QC said: 'The fault lies with each of the accused. What met the eyes of the paramedics was a shocking and disturbing scene.'

Mr Lumley continued: 'Jordan was lying, utterly helpless, on an inflatable mattress in a cluttered living room.

'He was little more than skin and bones, he weighed 37kg, less than six stones. He wore a soiled nappy under some pyjamas.

'The expert dietitian said they had never seen such malnutrition in 26 years and likened the condition of the body to that found in WWII extermination camps.

'His heart stopped, his life could not be saved; he expired in that living room.

'For reasons which may never be understood, Jordan had been allowed to decay, to rot to death, by those closest to him for at least several weeks.

'There was no other reason for his death, no natural or other illness, apart from the conditions created for him by the accused.'

The jury heard Jordan had led a relatively normal life before being taken out of school at age 16 where he was then home-schooled by Dawn Cranston.

There were no apparent illnesses which led to his deterioration in health and eventual death on June 30, 2016.

A clip of the 999 call made by Dawn was played to the court. She told the operator: 'He's been poorly and having problems breathing.

'He's gasping for breath and not responding. He was refusing to go to the toilet so I put a nappy on him.

'He was fine half an hour ago he was chatting and talking. He's so stubborn he wouldn't go to the doctors.'


Mr Lumley told the court: 'As that call was taking place an ambulance was dispatched to the house and arrived in minutes.

'The paramedics were - through no fault of their own - late, by many months.'

Jordan had suffered terrible pressure sores as a result of barely moving which were infected leaving his bones exposed in places.

The jury was told Jordan's father Steven Burling, with whom he had limited contact, had sent several text messages asking about his son's condition.

He did not see the true extent of what Jordan was suffering but he urged Dawn to take him to the doctors multiple times.

In one message Stephen said: 'I've been told by your mother not to come.

'I told you to take him to the doctors and you won't listen to me. He's not the same person.'

To which Dawn responded: 'The last ten years have been spent battling depression, anxiety attacks and sleeping two hours a day.'

Mr Lumley told the court Jordan died from acute bronchopneumonia, a result of his malnutrition, immobility and infection-riddled sores.

The court heard how police found Google searches on a computer in the house about pressure sores just eight weeks before Jordan's death.

Mr Lumley also told the jury of the disturbing find of a baby's remains when police searched the property in Farnley, Leeds.

The child of Dawn Cranston and Steven Burling had grown to full term in the womb but it could not be established if he was born dead or alive, he said.

The baby could have been born as long ago as 1992.

He added: 'Within what would have been Jordan's bedroom, officers found a small rucksack, within which were plastic bags inside plastic bags.

'As the police handled the rucksack, a rancid smelling liquid began to seep from the layers of bags.

'Amongst the liquid were tiny bones, all that remained of a baby boy.'

The three woman sat quietly in the dock all facing a principal charge of manslaughter and an alternative charge of causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable person.

Dawn Cranston pleaded guilty to concealing birth of a child by secretly disposing of body.


This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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