Jury due to begin deliberations in the trial of Sheffield couple accused of imprisoning son
The jury in the trial of a Sheffield couple accused of imprisoning their vulnerable son are due to begin their deliberations before returning a verdict.
Sheffield Crown Court has heard how stepfather Craig Hewitt, aged 42, and mother Lorna Hewitt, aged 43, of Walkley Road, Walkley, Sheffield, have both denied falsely imprisoning Mrs Hewitt’s 22-year-old son Matthew Langley in the attic of their family home and neglecting him during a seven-month period.
The trial which was scheduled for three weeks and began on November 29 was temporarily adjourned on December 17 and again on December 20 to review matters after two jurors tested positive for Covid-19 but proceedings recommenced on January 4.
Nicholas Campbell QC, prosecuting, has already told the trial jury how an ambulance was called to the Hewitts’ home in the early hours of June 2, 2020, where Mrs Hewitt’s son Matthew Langley was found seriously underweight and dehydrated with his life hanging in the balance.
Craig Hewitt and Lorna Hewitt, who have a family, have pleaded not guilty to false imprisonment from between November, 2019, to June 2, 2020. Both defendants have also pleaded not guilty to causing or allowing a vulnerable adult to suffer serious harm between the same dates.
Matthew, who is autistic and has suffered with irritable bowel syndrome, incontinence, arthritis and learning difficulties, had weighed only 39kg when he was found, according to Mr Campbell, but seven months before in November, 2019, he had weighed 53.6kg. Mr Campbell said Matthew has since made a physical recovery.
Craig Hewitt told police Matthew was being fed and he claimed there were locks on doors because their home used to be student accommodation. He also claimed Matthew had only been locked in at night so he did not set off security alarms.
Mr Hewitt chose not to give evidence during the trial but his wife Lorna Hewitt told the jury her son stopped having respite stay-overs because he became fed up with going to the care centre.
But Mr Campbell claimed if Craig and Lorna Hewitt had not cancelled the respite care stays he received at Blossom View, High Green, Sheffield, he would never have ended up in hospital fighting for his life.
However, Mrs Hewitt said during the end of Matthew’s time at Blossom View he was not enjoying himself and she assumed he was getting fed up and wanted to come home and he did not want to go out as much.
Mrs Hewitt said she had been anxious leaving Matthew alone on a couple of occasions but there were no other times when he was left alone and she tried to make him as safe as she could.
Mr Campbell said the couple had started locking Matthew in his room at night but Mrs Hewitt claimed he had been left downstairs when they went out.
The trial jury is expected to begin its deliberations either today, January 11, or tomorrow, January 12, following the judge’s summing-up of the evidence which followed the prosecution and defence counsel’s closing speeches.