An immobile and vulnerable woman from Leicester died in “horrific” conditions in a bedroom after her elderly father and her brother failed to care for her or seek medical help, a court has been told.
Jurors were told the body of Julie Burdett, 61, weighed just 4st 10lb (29.9kg) when paramedics were finally called to her Leicester home.
Prosecutors allege “extreme” hoarders 93-year-old Ralph Burdett and his son Philip, 59, left Julie to suffer “dreadful” injuries “surrounded by filth and squalor” for around two weeks in January 2019.
Leicester Crown Court heard Philip was paid a carer’s allowance of £60 per week to help his sister, who died from extreme ulcerations and an expert who examined the body said she had “never seen such a severe level of pressure damage” in her 40-year career.
The defendants, of Oakside Crescent, Leicester, both deny manslaughter. They told police they did not call for medical assistance because it was “against Julie’s wishes”.
Julie’s death was ‘avoidable’
Opening the case on Thursday, prosecutor Timothy Cray QC told the jury that Julie’s death was “entirely avoidable”, and the fault lies with her brother and father, because “they did not care for her”.
“What you are going to hear in this courtroom is going be hard for you to forget – ever I should think,” he said.
“The reason you are here is because someone died, a woman who was called Julie Burdett. Our case is that Julie died from neglect.”
An intelligent and articulate woman
The court was told that Julie was an intelligent and articulate woman, but she developed a disease similar to multiple sclerosis in 1998, leaving her needing a wheelchair when she left the house.
Detailing the alleged neglect, Mr Cray told jurors: “The failures of care were basic. They did not move Julie, they did not clean her, they did not feed her properly and they did not call for medical or other help.
“Ultimately, the result of their neglect was that Julie died. She died, I’m afraid, from dreadful injuries and surrounded by filth and squalor, in the home she shared with the defendants, her own father and her own brother.
“Their neglect was bad enough to lead to an awful death. On the face of it, Julie could have been saved by something as simple as one phone call to any of the medical professionals who had been caring for her for years, or to neighbours who were willing to help, saying that Julie was in serious decline and that they were struggling to cope.
“The central allegation that we make is that their neglect led to Julie’s death and that the neglect was so exceptionally bad that it amounted to the crime of manslaughter.”
The court heard paramedics attended the address at around 3.30pm on 15 January following a 999 call and found Julie dead in a small bedroom at the back of the bungalow.
“What the three paramedics discovered was horrific. The body appeared thin and frail. There were no signs of life,” Mr Cray said.
“The history that emerged from the paramedics speaking to the defendants was… for around two weeks, Julie had been left in her room, wedged against the bed in a space where there was barely room to move.”
The trial continues.