Vulnerable Sheffield man allegedly imprisoned in attic bedroom in Walkley strewn with faeces and vomit
A vulnerable young man found close to death in Sheffield was allegedly imprisoned in an attic bedroom that had become strewn with faeces and vomit.
Sheffield Crown Court heard during an ongoing trial, on November 30, that Craig Hewitt, aged 42, and 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.
Nicholas Campbell QC, prosecuting, said the ambulance service was called to the home in the early hours of June 2, 2020, where Matthew Langley, who has special needs, was found seriously underweight and dehydrated with his life hanging in the balance.
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.
Mr Campbell said: “His sodium levels were dangerously high. They measured 180. They were so high they could shut down his brain and kill him. Anything above 145, there is a real chance of death.”
He added: “The Home Office pathologist examined the injuries and said the abrasions and bruises were consistent in his view with Matthew having been crawling on all fours over objects in his path.”
Police had found faeces and vomit in Matthew’s attic bedroom all over the floor and the bedding along with buzzing flies, a bad smell and 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 only 39kg when he was found, according to Mr Campbell, but seven months before in November, 2019, he had weighed 53.6kg.
However, Mr Campbell said Matthew made a good physical recovery thanks to the hard work and skill of medical professionals and when he was discharged from hospital he weighed 55kg.
Craig Hewitt told police his wife Lorna had found Matthew upstairs lying on the floor and he claimed Matthew had been fed and that he ate in his room.
He also claimed after police found a key on the outside of Matthew’s bedroom door that there had been locks on the internal doors because their home used to be a student accommodation.
Mr Hewitt also stated to police that his stepson Matthew had only been locked in at night because he would go downstairs and set off security alarms.
Lorna Hewitt chose to give no comment answers to all questions asked by the police.
Mr Campbell told the jury: “It’s a matter for you that you may think that as the pressures grew they were prepared to gamble with his health in order that he would be taken off their hands and be looked after by others.”
Craig Hewitt and Lorna Hewitt, who have a family, pleaded not guilty to false imprisonment from between November, 2019, to June 2, 2020. Both defendants also pleaded not guilty to causing or allowing a vulnerable adult to suffer serious harm between the same dates.
The trial continues.