Sheffield woman and husband deny imprisoning her son in attic after he was found fighting for life

A woman and her husband have denied falsely imprisoning and neglecting her vulnerable son after he was found so severely underweight and dehydrated that his life had hung in the balance.

By Jon Cooper
Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 4:26 pm

Sheffield Crown Court heard during the beginning of a trial, on November 29, how Lorna Hewitt, aged 43, and her 42-year-old husband, Craig Hewitt, both of Walkley Road, Walkley, have pleaded not guilty to falsely imprisoning Lorna’s 22-year-old son, Matthew Langley, in the attic of their home and neglecting him during a seven-month period.

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Nicholas Campbell QC, prosecuting, said the ambulance service was called in the early hours of June 2, 2020, to attend the home where an attendant found Matthew Langley in a state of collapse and he was taken to hospital.

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Sheffield Crown Court, pictured, has heard how a woman and her husband have denied falsely imprisoning her son in an attic room in Sheffield and neglecting him after he was found underweight, dehydrated and severely ill.

Mr Campbell added: “It was clear he was both severely dehydrated and malnourished so much so that his life was in the balance.”

Matthew Langley, who is autistic, had irritable bowel syndrome, incontinence, arthritis and learning difficulties, weighed only 39kg – just over six stones – when he was found, according to Mr Campbell, and seven months before in November, 2019, he had weighed 53.6kg – eight stones and six pounds.

Mr Campbell added that Matthew had also been so gravely dehydrated his sodium levels were the highest levels that his doctor had encountered in his career.

The hospital alerted the police who discovered that no one outside of Matthew’s family had had any contact with him during the relevant seven-month period, according to Mr Campbell.

Police also found Matthew’s attic bedroom in a disgusting, smelly state, according to Mr Campbell, with a lock on the bedroom door with the key on the outside.

Mr Campbell said that there was evidence from Matthew’s time at school and college to suggest he was considered to be a sociable, likeable young man who has a keen interest in computers and football and is a Manchester United fan.

Matthew Langley made a good physical recovery thanks to the hard work and skill of medical professionals, according to Mr Campbell, and when he was discharged from hospital he weighed 55kg.

The trial continues.