Jordan Burling: Women jailed after teen ‘rotted to death’

Jordan Burling Image copyright West Yorkshire Police
Image caption Jordan Burling died at the home he shared with his mother and grandmother on 30 June 2016

The mother and grandmother of an emaciated teenager who was likened to a World War Two concentration camp victim have been jailed for manslaughter.

Jordan Burling, 18, went into cardiac arrest in Leeds in 2016 and died weighing less than six stone (37kg).

Mother Dawn Cranston and grandmother Denise allowed Mr Burling to “rot to death”, Leeds Crown Court heard.

Dawn, 45, and Denise, 70, were convicted of manslaughter and jailed for four and three years respectively.

Mr Burling’s sister Abigail Burling, who was found guilty of causing or allowing a vulnerable adult’s death, was ordered to serve 18 months in prison.

The judge told the three women it was “almost beyond belief” Mr Burling “should have been allowed to die in his own house in the bosom of his family”.

“Through your gross negligence, a precious human life was lost needlessly,” he said.

Image caption Denise Cranston, 70, Abigail Burling, 25, and Dawn Cranston, 45, failed to alert a GP as Jordan’s condition worsened

Mr Justice Spencer said the pictures of the teenager in an emaciated state were “hauntingly reminiscent of starving victims of extermination camps in the Second World War”.

Earlier, Mr Burling’s aunt, Susan Burling, read a victim personal statement on behalf of his father, Steven.

Ms Burling said the family were trying to cope with a “living nightmare”.

The statement said: “I just can’t understand why all these horrific things have happened to me and my family.”

During the trial, the prosecution said Jordan was allowed to “rot to death” by the women, who failed to phone for medical assistance until it was too late.

Image caption Jordan Burling was confined to the living room of the house in the final months of his life

Paramedics found Mr Burling wearing a soiled nappy and lying in an unresponsive state on a makeshift inflatable bed in the living room of the house in Butterbowl Garth, Farnley.

A subsequent police search of the property found the remains of a baby boy in a rucksack, hidden on the top shelf of a cupboard in Mr Burling’s bedroom for 14 years.

Before the trial, his mother admitted endeavouring to conceal the birth of a child.

An NHS dietician had told the court Mr Burling, who was 5ft 5ins (1.67m) tall, had a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 13.6, which falls in the “severe thinness” category.

The figure, based on measurements taken during his post-mortem examination, was the lowest the dietician had recorded in her 26-year career.

It was estimated he had been malnourished for at least six months before his death on 30 June, having developed bed sores so deep they left bone exposed.

The judge said the three women had attempted to take care of Mr Burling as his condition worsened including washing him and changing his adult nappy.

They were “relentless and unpleasant tasks” and Mr Burling’s death was the greatest punishment the three would have to bear, he said.

Dr Cleo Van Velsen, a consultant psychiatrist who assessed Dawn, told the jury her behaviour was consistent with a dissociative disorder called depersonalisation – a defence mechanism characterised by a sense of disconnect from the world and your body to cope with acute anxiety or trauma.

None of the three have any previous convictions.

In a statement read outside court, the family of Mr Burling’s father, Steven, said: “We feel betrayed by the people we trusted to care for Jordan.

“Steven and the family will always remember Jordan having a bubbly and chatty personality.

“We have had two years of hell coming to terms with Jordan’s death.”



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