Matthew Langley Sheffield: Review ordered into how social services missed any signs of abuse

Officials have ordered a review into how vulnerable Matthew Langley was able to be imprisoned in a Sheffield attic by his mother and stepfather.

Thursday, 13th January 2022, 3:32 pm

During a trial at Sheffield Crown Court, it emerged several organisations had not picked up on the problem, despite autistic Matthew, aged 22, having stopped using their services, and Sheffield Council had not replaced a social worker who had been visiting him.

The court heard Matthew had at one stage attended Hillsborough College, where there was surprise when his parents pulled him out.

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He was supposed to be attending the Burton Street Centre - but did not attend.

Matthew went briefly to the Blossom View respite care centre in High Green, but his parents withdrew him.

And Sheffield City Council had a social services visitor who was training to be a social worker who visited Matthew’s family regularly to establish what their needs were. But during the case it emerged she left the job and was not replaced by the council.

John Macilwraith, Sheffield Council’s executive director for people services, said: “This is an incredibly sad case and our thoughts go out to the victim.

“Since this case came to our attention we have begun a full review in order to learn any lessons and we will implement any changes required.

“We will do all we can to provide the victim with the support he deserves going forward and will do all that we can, working with our partners, to ensure that situations like this are not repeated.”

Craig Hewitt and Lorna Hewitt

A jury yesterday found Craig Hewitt, aged 42, and Lorna Hewitt, aged 43, of Walkley Road, Walkley, guilty of falsely imprisoning Matthew, Mrs Hewitt’s 22-year-old son in their family home and neglecting him during a seven-month period. They were also convicted of causing or allowing a vulnerable adult to suffer serious harm between the same dates.

Nicholas Campbell QC, prosecuting, told the court that Mr Langley was admitted to a hospital intensive care unit in a “pitiable state” with abrasions indicating he had been moving around on all fours and he had suffered damage to a kidney with high sodium levels relating to severe dehydration, according to Mr Campbell.

He claimed if Craig and Lorna Hewitt had not cancelled the respite care he received at Blossom View, High Green, Sheffield, he would never have ended up in hospital fighting for his life.

Hillsborough College was shocked when the Hewitts withdrew him, according to Mr Campbell, with a plan for him to go to Burton Street Centre.

Anita Straffon, deputy chief executive and deputy principal, at the Sheffield College, which runs Hillsborough College, said today: “We are deeply saddened by this extremely distressing case. Our thoughts are with Matthew at this very difficult time.

“Matthew was very well thought of by staff and students. There was no indication of any family issues or concerns when he attended the College. He was in good health and his attendance was good.

“When Matthew’s family decided to withdraw him from his course, we followed all procedures including reporting it to the local authority. We have fully cooperated with all agencies involved in this case and will continue to do so.”

Burton Street Centre, and Blossom View have both been approached for comment.