`

Mother and grandmother found guilty of killing teenager who 'rotted to death'

Jordan Burling, 18, who was allowed to "rot to death" on an inflatable mattress by his mother Dawn Cranston, 45, and grandmother Denise Cranston, 70. Photo credit: West Yorkshire Police/PA Wire
Jordan Burling, 18, who was allowed to "rot to death" on an inflatable mattress by his mother Dawn Cranston, 45, and grandmother Denise Cranston, 70. Photo credit: West Yorkshire Police/PA Wire

The mother and grandmother of a teenager who was allowed to "rot to death" on an inflatable mattress have been convicted of his manslaughter.

Jordan Burling was said to have resembled the victim of a Second World War death camp when paramedics found him lying lifelessly on the makeshift bed, weighing just 6st (38kg).

As a result of barely moving for weeks, he was covered in bed sores, and was wearing a soiled nappy when he died from acute bronchopneumonia at his home in the Farnley area of Leeds in June 2016.

On Tuesday, a jury at Leeds Crown Court unanimously convicted his 45-year-old mother Dawn Cranston of manslaughter, as well as his grandmother, Denise Cranston, 70.

Mr Burling's 25-year-old sister, Abigail Burling, was found not guilty of manslaughter, but guilty of an alternative charge of causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable person.

During the five-week trial, prosecutor Nicholas Lumley QC described the extent of the neglect that the two relatives showed towards the teenager, telling jurors: "Jordan had been allowed to decay, to rot to death, by those closest to him, over a period of, at least, several weeks."

Paramedic Bridget Shepherd, who rushed to his aid, claimed the dying man looked "very, very pale and very emaciated" when she first attempted to treat him on June 30 2016, the day of his death.

She added that his bone structure was clearly visible and that his mother had claimed that he "had not been eating for a few weeks".

A series of witnesses claimed that the 18-year-old's mother "did not seem bothered" as medics attempted to revive him with CPR, whilst Denise Cranston supposedly remained seated in a nearby armchair.

Dawn Cranston was even heard telling a 999 operator shortly before Mr Burling's death that his unresponsive state was a "blessing" as it meant she would not have to go work that day.

Police Constable Ben McNamara, who arrived at the home of Dawn and Denise Cranston just hours after the teenager's death, claimed that the first thing the deceased's mother asked him was how much the funeral would cost.

Referencing the comment, he said: "I was surprised by everyone's lack of emotion. It is a strange thing to say after he had just died."

Another police officer claimed the deceased's mother seemed overly concerned about whether she would be able to get refunds for "a Zimmer frame and American food" she had bought her son from Amazon.

Giving evidence in the trial, Mr Burling's mother claimed that he suddenly started to lose weight in April 2016 but refused to go to the doctors after previously being turned away for arriving "a minute late".

Crying throughout her account of the months immediately preceding his passing, she claimed that the teenager "suddenly got to the point where he would not move out of the chair or anything like that".

She added: "He did not think he would die. I did not want him to die."

Prior to the trial, Dawn Cranston admitted endeavouring to conceal a birth after hiding the remains of her dead baby in a rucksack for around 14 years.

Following the verdicts on Tuesday, Gerry Wareham, from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Yorkshire and Humberside, said Mr Burling's death was "one of the most shocking cases" they have ever dealt with.

He added: "These women had a duty of care towards Jordan. However, the CPS showed the court that instead they allowed him to rot to death in his own home.

"Words cannot begin to convey the extent of Jordan's terrible suffering at the hands of the very people he should have been able to trust the most.

"Those responsible for that suffering have been found guilty of causing his death."