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Husband is found guilty of letting his wife, 71, ‘die in her own filth’ weighing just four stone


A husband has been found guilty of killing his wife after she was left to die in her own filth during lockdown.

Robert Morgan, 61, was convicted of killing 71-year-old Dorothy Morgan who caught gangrene and died from sepsis after being left covered in her own urine and faeces.

His co-accused David Holyoak, 53, Dorothy’s son by another man, was also found guilty of manslaughter.

Carlisle Crown Court previously heard how Dorothy’s cheeks were left ‘sunken’ after she spent her final few weeks living on a settee in her family home in Whitehaven, Cumbria.

Morgan had told the jury that the pensioner was ‘terrified’ of hospitals and had ordered him not to call doctors for medical intervention if she required it. He also accepted under cross-examination by prosecutor Iain Simkin KC, that from early January 2021, he had ‘failed to take care of her basic human needs.’

But he did not claim full responsibility for her death, on February 4, 2021, saying he ‘didn’t notice’ her terrible condition as things had ‘got on top of him’.

A jury took 23 hours and 12 minutes to reach a guilty decision for both Morgan and Holyoak, who showed no emotion when it was read out in court.

Robert Christopher Morgan (pictured) has been convicted of killing his wife Dorothy Morgan, 71

Robert Christopher Morgan (pictured) has been convicted of killing his wife Dorothy Morgan, 71

His co-accused David Holyoak (pictured), 53, Dorothy's son by another man, was also found guilty of manslaughter

His co-accused David Holyoak (pictured), 53, Dorothy’s son by another man, was also found guilty of manslaughter

Judge Goddard KC told both men following the decision to prepare for an ‘immediate custodial sentence’.

She said: ‘You have now been convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence of Dorothy Morgan. You will appreciate that this is a very serious offence indeed and it’s almost inevitable that there will be immediate custodial sentences; you must both come to terms with that.’

Gail O’Brien, senior crown prosecutor for CPS North West, said after the verdict: ‘This is one of the worst cases of manslaughter by gross negligence I have seen.

‘It would have been clear to both men that Mrs Morgan was suffering from a lack of basic care and medical attention, still they failed to call for assistance until it was too late.

‘The CPS worked hard with Cumbria Constabulary to build a strong case ensuring that all the medical and pathology evidence was before the court. The jury agreed with the CPS that both men were guilty of manslaughter. My thoughts are very much with the family of Dorothy Morgan.’

Security worker Morgan previously told the jury that he had met Dorothy in a pub in Whitehaven in 1997 and their relationship had developed ‘very quickly.’

Carlisle Crown Court heard how Dorothy's cheeks were left 'sunken' after she spent her final few weeks living on a settee in her family home in Whitehaven, Cumbria [Stock image]

Carlisle Crown Court heard how Dorothy’s cheeks were left ‘sunken’ after she spent her final few weeks living on a settee in her family home in Whitehaven, Cumbria [Stock image]

After three weeks, they were living together at her home in the town in Cumbria. He said they had shared a love of reading and had more than 1,000 books in the house and they only ‘very rarely’ had bad times as a couple.

But Morgan said that retired Dorthy, who previously worked at a Kangol factory in Frizington, Cumbria, had been ‘terrified’ of hospitals.

He said: ‘She made it known from day one that if ever she was ill she did not want any intervention by doctors or hospitals. She would do it her way. When I moved in, she made that clear to me that if she ever got in a position when she needed help, she would not accept it.

‘She had a thing about West Cumberland Hospital, she didn’t want to go in there if she could avoid it.’ He also told the jury that she had stopped seeing her GP.

Morgan said that his wife had been a heavy smoker, and after her retirement she had slowed down and her alcohol consumption had gone up. And in his police interview, he told officers that Dorthy had refused medical help before he eventually made a 999 call and she was rushed to hospital on January 29.

She tragically died at West Cumberland Hospital one week later.

The pathologist Dr Armour said she weighed 29kgs, about four and a half stone, when she passed away. The pathologist said muscle wasting was clearly visible in many areas of Dorothy’s body, including on her abdomen and her face. He said this was usually one of the last areas of the body to lose muscle mass when a person suffers emaciation – and her cheeks were sunken.

Mr Simkin asked: ‘You’d look at her in the face and you’d know there was something wrong?’ Dr Armour responded with: ‘Yes.’

The prosecutor then asked Dr Armour how she would characterise the level of emaciation, and he replied: ‘Severe.’

The pathologist said there were sores on her back, her shoulder, her arms, her legs and her buttocks.

And he also found there were areas of skin loss and other areas where tissue had become ‘necrotic,’ meaning that it had died, the jury heard.

Some wounds were typical of those suffered by a person who had remained in the same position without moving.

During his cross-examination, Morgan said he had not smelled any evidence of the state his wife was in.

And he again denied that he had ‘just left his wife to die’, and Mr Simkin’s suggestion that he had hardly anything to do with his wife.

Mr Simkin told Morgan: ‘You are lying because you know you left her there to die, you are telling this jury whatever you can to try to get away with it. Is that right?’

Morgan replied: ‘No – that’s not correct.’

Mr Simkin then asked Morgan about Dorthy failing to have sufficient food or drink while she was living on the settee.

Morgan responded: ‘She had it; I don’t know if she ate it or drank it. It was certainly supplied’, but he accepted that the settee was not clean.

Mr Simkin said: ‘It was obvious that unless you intervened, she was going to die* You left her because you could not be bothered to do anything else.’

The defendant replied: ‘That is vastly not true.’



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