Lorna Hewitt, 43, and Craig, 42, were each sentenced to six years behind bars after they were found guilty of holding Matthew Langley, 22, at their home in Sheffield, South Yorkshire
A mother and stepfather who locked their autistic son in an attic where he was found ‘near death’ were jailed today
Lorna Hewitt, 43, and her husband Craig, 42, were each sentenced to six years behind bars after they were found guilty of holding Matthew Langley, 22, at their home in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.
Matthew was severely dehydrated and weighed only 6 stone – or 36 kg – when he was found inside a room covered in vomit and feces.
Judge Michael Slater, described Lorna Hewitt’s actions as “a serious abuse of trust between a mother and her son” in sentencing at Sheffield Crown Court on Friday.
He added: “You are the primary carer for Matthew with all his hardships and challenges.
“I can’t even explain that in those seven months you couldn’t provide him with the support and food and drink that he craved and needed.”
The Hewitts had previously denied keeping Matthew at their home for seven months, but the jury found both guilty.
South Yorkshire Police)
The couple were also found guilty of causing or leaving an adult vulnerable to serious physical harm.
Matthew was found by paramedics severely underweight, dehydrated and “with his life hanging on the scales”, the court heard.
Nicholas Campbell QC, according to the prosecution, earlier said an ambulance service was called to the home in Sheffield, South Yorks., in the early hours of June 2, 2020.
Matthew was taken to the hospital’s intensive care unit in a “pitiful” condition with scratches showing he was moving around on all fours, the prosecutor told the court.
It was damaged in one kidney with high sodium levels associated with severe dehydration.
Mr. Campbell added: “His sodium levels were dangerously high. They measured 180.
South Yorkshire Police)
Tom Maddick / SWNS)
“They’re at such a high altitude that they could turn off his brain and kill him. Anything over 145, has a real chance of death.
“The Home Office pathologist examined the wounds and said the scratches and bruises were consistent with his view that Matthew was crawling on all fours over objects in his path. he.”
When police entered the attic, they found feces and vomit all over the floor and bedding, and swarms of flies buzzing, the court heard.
Police also found a key outside the door, it was said.
Matthew, who suffered from irritable bowel syndrome, urinary incontinence, arthritis and learning difficulties, weighed only six stone when found, Mr. Campbell said.
In November 2019, just seven months earlier, he weighed eight and a half tablets, the court heard.
Tom Maddick / SWNS)
Seven months earlier, in November 2019, he weighed eight and a half pounds, the court heard.
Thanks to the hard work of medical experts, Matthew recovered well and was discharged from the hospital with a weight of 8.6 stones.
In the extenuating section, John Harrison, for Lorna Hewitt, read a report from psychologist Rekha Davis that she was “easily manipulated and exploited” and “prone to suggestion”.
“Due to her emotional vulnerability, her ability to consider the consequences of her actions and decisions is limited,” the report states.
Tana Adkin QC, representing Mr Craig Hewitt, said there had been a “significant change” in his understanding of what he did during the court proceedings.
She said: “He is devastated about what happened to Mathew. He is not a man who is deliberately cruel in the way that courts have seen and seen in the past.
“He’s not someone who can punish Matthew for his autism.”
However, Judge Slater disagreed with these characteristics when he sentenced the couple behind bars.
Speaking before Craig Hewitt, the judge said: “You have been complicit with wife Lorna Hewitt in effectively taking care of – the fact that Matthew is locked to any degree when he is locked in his room and starving.
“It didn’t happen by mistake, it didn’t happen by recklessness.
“It’s a plan between two people. I’m pretty pleased that nothing happens in that household that you don’t know about or approve of.”
Speaking directly to Lorna Hewitt, he said: “Arguing on your behalf that you were particularly vulnerable and suggestible at the time.”
“It benefits me to watch you give evidence in court for a few days.
“It seems to me that you are incapable of standing up for yourself or that you are particularly suggestive. You are both a clear, moderate and thoughtful witness.’
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/mum-stepdad-locked-autistic-son-26272559 Mother and stepmother locked autistic son in attic and starved him until 'near death'