Disabled man ‘weighed 6st and nearly died after being locked in attic by mum’


Matthew Langley, 22, who has autism, was locked in his room at night to stop him going downstairs to set off security alarms at the home in Sheffield, South Yorks, claims Craig Hewitt

Lorna Hewitt pleaded not guilty to false imprisonment
Lorna Hewitt pleaded not guilty to false imprisonment

A disabled man was found weighing just 6st and ‘close to death’ after allegedly being imprisoned by his mum in an attic bedroom that was strewn with faeces and vomit, a court heard.

The Crown claim Lorna Hewitt, 43, and her husband Craig, 42, kept her autistic son Matthew Langley, 22, locked up in the attic of their family home for seven months.

Sheffield Crown Court heard Matthew was found by paramedics seriously underweight, dehydrated and ‘with his life hanging in the balance’.

Nicholas Campbell QC, prosecuting, said the ambulance service was called to the home in Sheffield, South Yorks., in the early hours of June 2, 2020.

Matthew was rushed to a hospital intensive care unit in a “pitiable state” with abrasions indicating he had been moving around on all fours, the prosecutor told the court.

He had suffered damage to a kidney with high sodium levels relating to severe dehydration, it was heard.

Craig Hewitt told police that Matthew was locked up at night to stop him setting off security alarms


Tom Maddick / SWNS)

Mr Campbell added: “His sodium levels were dangerously high. They measured 180. They were so high they could shut down his brain and kill him. Anything above 145, there is a real chance of death.

“The Home Office pathologist examined the injuries and said the abrasions and bruises were consistent in his view with Matthew having been crawling on all fours over objects in his path.”

Police had found faeces and vomit in Matthew’s attic bedroom all over the floor and the bedding along with buzzing flies, a bad smell and a key on the outside of the door, the court heard.

Matthew, who has suffered with irritable bowel syndrome, incontinence, arthritis and learning difficulties, had weighed only 39kg (6st) when he was found, Mr Campbell said.

Lorna Hewitt also pleaded not guilty to causing or allowing a vulnerable adult to suffer serious harm


Tom Maddick / SWNS)

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Seven months earlier, in November, 2019, he had weighed 53.6kg (8.5st), the court heard.

However, Mr Campbell said Matthew made a good physical recovery thanks to the hard work of medical professionals and when he was discharged from hospital he weighed 55kg.

The Crown claim Craig Hewitt told police his wife Lorna had found Matthew upstairs lying on the floor and he claimed Matthew had been fed and that he ate in his room.

He also claimed a key was found by the police on the outside of Matthew’s bedroom door and there had been locks on the internal doors because their home used to be a student accommodation.

Mr Hewitt stated to police that his stepson Matthew had only been locked in at night because he would go downstairs and set off security alarms.

Lorna Hewitt chose to give no comment answers to all questions asked by the police, the court heard.

Mr Campbell told the jury: “It’s a matter for you that you may think that as the pressures grew they were prepared to gamble with his health in order that he would be taken off their hands and be looked after by others.”

Craig Hewitt and Lorna Hewitt pleaded not guilty to false imprisonment from between November, 2019, to June 2, 2020.

Both defendants also pleaded not guilty to causing or allowing a vulnerable adult to suffer serious harm between the same dates.

The trial continues.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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