Woman guilty over mother's death
A civilian police worker who allowed her mother to starve to death in "almost indescribable squalor" has been jailed for 30 months.
Angela Pearson, 53, of Guiseley, Leeds, was convicted by a jury of the manslaughter of Eileen Pearson, 82, by gross negligence.
The West Yorkshire Police employee failed to provide adequate food, nourishment and care to her mother and failed to summon timely medical help before she drove her body to hospital last May. Bed-ridden Mrs Pearson died from a combination of malnutrition and infected bed sores, Preston Crown Court heard.
When police visited their home in Fairway they found the property was uninhabitable and in extreme squalor. The rooms were piled high with a mixture of discarded possessions, soiled clothes, soiled nappies, food waste, bottles filed with urine, human waste and decaying rubbish.
Pearson argued that she had "no idea" her mother was going to die and she had not breached her duty of care but a jury ruled otherwise. Sentencing her, Mr Justice Irwin said he accepted the defendant had a "very unusual background" and that had halved the length of the jail term. But he said the vices of "selfishness" and "laziness" were conspicuous in her behaviour.
He said: "Leaving aside the squalor you lived in, your mother starved over months. She was grossly weakened by that process and you effectively did nothing to prevent it. The pressure sores were dreadful. They were so advanced that the pathologist who gave evidence in this trial said that only once in 15 years had they seen anything like it. That is truly shocking. You made a real contribution to her death."
The judge said the prosecution team officer at West Yorkshire Police's Leeds Criminal Justice Support Unit was able to function "very well" outside of the home environment. Prosecutor Rachel Smith QC described Pearson to the jury as "professional, diligent, articulate and capable".
Pearson came from a wealthy family and acknowledged in her evidence that she had sufficient funds not to need to go to work. She had an interest in home crafts and attended a three-day course in Harrogate over the weekend before her mother died.
"You were capable of discharging real responsibility," said Mr Justice Irwin. "You had the capacity to look after your mother if you made the effort to do so. I accept you loved your mother but you grossly neglected her." During the trial he said she had acknowledged her failures to a degree but said she had "never took personal responsibility fully for what you did".
Pearson's defence was that she and her mother suffered Diogenes syndrome, also known as senile squalor syndrome, which is characterised by such actions as compulsive hoarding of rubbish. They were also said to suffer from folie a deux syndrome - translated from French as madness created between two people.