A Welsh couple was sentenced to prison Wednesday after a jury in the city of Swansea found them guilty of manslaughter in the death of their disabled 16-year-old daughter.
The girl, Kaylea Titford, who was bound to a wheelchair and dependent upon her parents for help, died of morbid obesity and had been forced to live the last months of her life in absolute squalor.
Prosecutors in the case described the conditions in which the girl had been living as, "unfit for any animal, let alone a vulnerable 16-year-old girl who depended entirely on others for her care."
First responders traumatized at stench of living conditions
Authorities say first responders and police were traumatized by the stench of rotting flesh when they arrived at the family's home. The girl was found with open sores on her body, surrounded by junk food wrappers, bottles of urine and soiled toilet pads for house-training puppies.
The jury was told that when she was discovered, the girl's body was covered in flies and maggots. Her cause of death was linked to inflammation and ulcers stemming from obesity.
The 4'8" (146 centimeter) tall girl weighed 146 kilograms (321 pounds) at the time of her death.
The teen had been born with spinal bifida, which causes spinal and neurological problems, and as a result she suffered hydrocephalus, or the build-up of fluid on the brain.
Titford had been attending a regular school just months before the coronavirus lockdown began in March 2020. There, authorities said, she was popular with her classmates and was known for her wheelchair basketball skills.
Girl's parents sought to blame one another for situation
The girl's father, Alun Titford, a 45-year-old moving company employee, told the court "I'm lazy" before admitting that he stopped caring for his daughter when she reached puberty.
He pleaded not guilty in the case, though later admitted his role in the girl's death.
He was found guilty of manslaughter and gross negligence and handed a seven-and-a-half-year sentence.
The mother, 40-year-old Sarah Loyd-Jones, who pleaded guilty, was given a six-year jail sentence.
Among other things, the court was read text message exchanges in which the daughter's pleas for help drew mocking derision from her mother, who refused to help.
Local media reported that Lloyd-Jones' lawyer Lewis Power argued she suffered from low intellect and depression.
"During the lockdown period, when so many people suffered not just mentally but in socialization, she became gradually overwhelmed. Her coping strategies coupled with lockdown led her to develop major depression and she was no longer able to care for her daughter’s needs."
"It escalated," said Powell, "to the horrendous situation where she withdrew from her everyday responsibilities and led the catastrophic outcome. She accepts she neglected her duties of looking after her daughter."
The media outlet WalesOnline reported that Judge Griffiths cited the mitigating factors of Loyd-Jones' guilty plea as well as a diagnosis for depression in handing down her lighter sentence.
Failed by the state, too
The case highlights the consequences of a lack of government oversight.
Social services, for instance, had failed to check in on the family for years. No one followed up on the case when the girl stopped visiting her nutritionist and physiotherapist.
Swansea Crown Court Presiding Judge Martin Griffiths, who called the case "horrifying," said the girl had suffered "a long and sustained period of criminal negligence" at the hands of her parents, who simply ignored the stench as her body "rotted away alive" from ulcers.
"By the time of her death," said Judge Griffiths, "she was lying in her own filth, surrounded by flies which bothered her and maggots which fed on her."
Griffith cited the repulsive nature of the case in declaring that jury members would be exempted from jury duty for the next 10 years.
This report contains material from the AFP news agency.
Edited by: Amanda Rivkin