Stepdad and mum accused of imprisoning son in attic allegedly cancelled respite support care

A stepdad and mum who are accused of imprisoning their son in their attic allegedly cancelled his respite support care months before he was found collapsed at the family home.

By Jon Cooper
Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 9:13 am

Sheffield Crown Court heard during a trial this week how Craig Hewitt, aged 42, and Lorna Hewitt, aged 43, of Walkley Road, Walkley, Sheffield, have denied falsely imprisoning Lorna Hewitt’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 an ambulance was called to the home in the early hours of June 2, 2020, where Matthew Langley was found seriously underweight and dehydrated with his life hanging in the balance.

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Pictured outside Sheffield Crown Court is step-dad Craig Hewitt, aged 42, of Walkley Road, Walkley, Sheffield, who has denied falsely imprisoning his wife Lorna Hewitt’s 22-year-old son Matthew Langley in an attic bedroom of their family home and neglecting him during a seven-month period.

Mr Campbell added Matthew was a well-liked, sociable, young man with a keen interest in computers and football and if Craig and Lorna Hewitt had not cancelled the respite care stays he received as a young adult at Blossom View respite centre, High Green, Sheffield, he would never have ended up in hospital fighting for his life.

He added: “Had his visits not been cancelled. Had he been allowed to attend respite care, he would never have been found in the pitiable state of malnourishment and dehydration that he ended up in.”

Mr Campbell said the couple knew Matthew was still welcome at Blossom View where he was allowed to stay for a week or longer at a time but the couple allegedly chose to cancel his visits.

After Matthew was discovered collapsed at home he was admitted to a hospital with abrasions indicating he had been crawling on all fours and he had also suffered kidney damage with high sodium levels relating to severe dehydration, according to Mr Campbell.

Pictured outside Sheffield Crown Court is Lorna Hewitt, aged 43, of Walkley Road, Walkley, Sheffield, who has denied falsely imprisoning and neglecting her 22-year-old son Matthew Langley in the attic of their home and neglecting him during a seven-month period.

Mr Campbell said police had found faeces, vomit and flies in Matthew’s attic bedroom with a key on the outside of the door.

Matthew, who is autistic and has suffered with irritable bowel syndrome, incontinence, arthritis and learning difficulties, had weighed 53.6kg in November, 2019, but when he was found in June, 2020, he had weighed only 39kg, according to Mr Campbell.

However, Mr Campbell said Matthew has since made a good physical recovery.

Mr Campbell said Matthew was very well thought of during his time at Abbey School, in Rotherham, Talbot Specialist School, at Norton Lees, Sheffield, and later at Hillsborough College.

But Hillsborough College was shocked when Craig and Lorna Hewitt withdrew him, according to Mr Campbell, with a plan for him to go to the Burton Street Centre.

Mr Campbell said a council worker had been addressing Matthew’s needs but after she moved to a new job no one else was appointed.

Matthew had enjoyed respite spells at Blossom View during 2019, but Craig and Lorna Hewitt cancelled his stays, according to Mr Campbell.

Craig Hewitt told police that 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. Lorna Hewitt gave no comment answers to police questions.

The trial continues.