Woman jailed for letting her mother die in squalor

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A civilian police worker from Yorkshire 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 and failed to summon timely medical help before she drove her mother’s dead 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 it uninhabitable and in extreme squalor, with rooms piled high with discarded possessions, soiled clothes, soiled nappies, food and human waste, and decaying rubbish.

Pearson had argued that she had “no idea” her mother was going to die and had not breached her duty of care.

Sentencing her, Mr Justice Irwin said he accepted she 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.

“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 judge said the Leeds-based prosecution team officer was able to function “very well” outside of the home environment.

Pearson, who came from a wealthy family and had acknowledged she did not need to work, was described by prosecutor Rachel Smith QC as “professional, diligent, articulate and capable”.

Her defence was that she and her mother suffered from 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.

The court heard that Pearson was no longer in Fairway or the other family home at nearby Ghyll Royd but in the “temporary accommodation” of a holiday park caravan home which she bought in cash for £130,000.

Mitigating, Andrew Stubbs QC, defending, said: “She cared too much in the wrong way, doing what was plainly inadequate but we submit that was her best.”

Unmarried Pearson was ordered to pay £36,000 prosecution costs and also the defence costs which have yet to be determined.