Teenager looked like Second World War camp victim, says judge
Jordan Burling’s mother, grandmother and sister have been jailed for manslaughter.
A teenager who died at home looked “hauntingly reminiscent of starving victims in the extermination camps of the Second World War”, according to a judge who jailed his mother, grandmother and sister.
Jordan Burling, 18, was left to “rot to death” at his home in Leeds, a jury has been told.
His mother, shop worker Dawn Cranston, 45, was jailed for four years at Leeds Crown Court on Thursday, along with his grandmother, Denise Cranston, 70, who was given a three-year sentence.
Both women were found guilty of manslaughter earlier this week by a jury that was told how Mr Burling was found in a soiled nappy, weighing 5st 11lbs and covered in pressure sores so deep his bones were exposed.
The court also heard how police searching the house in the Farsley area of Leeds found the decomposed body of a baby, which had been in a rucksack in a wardrobe for about 14 years.
Sentencing the two women and Mr Burling’s sister, who was found guilty of a lesser charge, the judge, Mr Justice Spencer said: “It is profoundly disturbing and almost beyond belief that Jordan Burling, a young man of 18, should have been allowed to die in his own home here in Leeds in 2016, in the bosom of his family, through the failure of all three of you to take the elementary, humane step of summoning medical assistance for him when it was obvious that for many days, if not weeks, he was quite literally at death’s door.”
During the trial, prosecutors said: “Jordan had been allowed to decay, to rot to death, by those closest to him, over a period of, at least, several weeks.”
The judge said: “With proper medical care in hospital his life could undoubtedly have been saved.”
Instead, he was condemned to a lingering death “lying for three months on an airbed and mattress in the living room of the family home, emaciated, immobile and doubly incontinent.”
He told the women that photos of Mr Burling’s final state were too horrific to be published and said: “They are hauntingly reminiscent of starving victims in the extermination camps of the Second World War”
The judge said: “It is important to emphasise that this was not a deprived household in material terms, nor were any of you inadequate to the point that you were unable to live a reasonably normal life outside the home.
“Although the house was full of clutter you all had mobile phones, laptop or tablet computers and a great deal of other equipment.
“The house was well-stocked with food. There were three refrigerators or freezers.”
He said: “Through your gross negligence, a precious human life was lost needlessly.”
The court heard how paramedics were called to house on June 30 2016, and Mr Burling went into cardiac arrest within five minutes of them arriving. He died despite attempts to revive him.
The jury heard how the women said they believed Mr Burling did not want medical attention after an incident in which a doctor refused to see them after being “a minute late” for an appointment – a story the judge said had “acquired the status almost of a folk legend within the family”.
The judge said Dawn Cranston was suffering from a dissociative disorder, which also reduced her culpability in relation to her not reporting the birth or death of the baby found in the wardrobe.
She was given a 12-month sentence for endeavouring to conceal a birth, which she had admitted earlier, to run concurrent with her sentence for manslaughter.
Abigail Burling, 25, was jailed for 18 months. She was found not guilty of manslaughter on Tuesday, but guilty of an alternative charge of causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable person.
In a statement read outside court by Mr Burling’s aunt, Susan Burling, on behalf of the family of his father, Steven Burling, she 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 and we would like to thank the police and everyone involved who has helped to support us through this dreadful time.”
James Rogers, chairman of the Safer Leeds executive, said a full independent review was under way into Mr Burling’s death.