Mother accused of manslaughter of teenage boy found in soiled nappy ' did not seem bothered' by son's death, court hears

A mother accused of manslaughter "did not seem to be bothered" by her son's death and reacted by asking police officers how much his funeral would cost, a court has heard.

Friday, 8th June 2018, 9:04 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 11:27 am
Jurors at Leeds Crown Court were told how Dawn Cranston, 45, did not appear to react to her 18-year-old son's passing, and instead was concerned with getting refunds for the zimmer-frame and American food she had previously bought for him.

Jurors at Leeds Crown Court were told how Dawn Cranston, 45, did not appear to react to her 18-year-old son's passing, and instead was concerned with getting refunds for the zimmer-frame and American food she had previously bought for him.

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Giving evidence on Thursday, Bridget Shepherd from the Yorkshire Ambulance Service told how Mr Burling seemed "very very pale and very emaciated" when an ambulance arrived at his home in Farnley, Leeds, on June 30 2016, and claimed he went into a cardiac arrest minutes later.

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Discussing his mother's reaction to her and her colleagues performing CPR on him, the witness said: "She did not seem to be bothered about what was going on. She did not seem to be in shock."

Despite paramedics spending around 50 minutes trying to revive him, Mr Burling passed away as a result of acute bronchopneumonia which, according to Mr Lumley, resulted from his family's failure to adaquately care for him.

The teenager's mother is on trial accused of manslaughter, as is his grandmother, Denise Cranston, 70, and his 25-year-old sister Abigail Burling.

The trio, who were supposedly all responsible for Mr Burling's care, also deny an alternative count of causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult.

Taking questions from the prosecution, Police Constable Ben McNamara claimed the first thing that the mother asked him when he arrived at her home - the scene of her son's death hours earlier - was: "How much does a funeral cost?"

"It seemed like a strange thing to say at such a tragic time, and I was surprised by everybody's emotion towards the death at the time", the witness said.

Mr McNamara also claimed that Dawn Cranston told him that she was not aware she was pregnant with Mr Burling until the point of childbirth, and got the impression that the three defendants each had "some sort of learning difficulty or mental health issue".

The court also heard from Mr McNamara's colleague, PC Emma Robson, how the deceased's mother seemed concerned about how she would get refunds for "American food" and a zimmer-frame she had purchased for him.

She told jurors: "One thing that really stuck out, because it seemed so out of place, was Dawn Cranston saying: 'I used to be able to say I had a son and a daughter, now I can only say that I have a daughter'."

Ms Robson also said she overheard Abigail Burling telling her mother: "Oh no mum, he will be gutted that he missed the Nerf guns, they will be in Happy Meals soon."

On Wednesday, Mr Lumley told jurors Dawn Cranston had admitted a count of endeavouring to conceal the birth of a child, after officers searching her home discovered bags containing a "rancid smelling liquid" and her baby son's bones.

It is not known whether the baby was born stillborn, but prosecutors claim the incident reflects the defendant's "propensity for failing to care for children".

The trial, which is expected to last between five and six weeks, continues on Friday.