Whitehaven mum had severe open sores which exposed her bones before death, manslaughter trial hears

08.12.22 Carlisle Crown Court. Credit: ITV Border
Robert Morgan, 61, and 52-year-old David Holyoak are on trial for the alleged manslaughter of their respective wife and mum, Dorothy Morgan by gross negligence at Carlisle Crown Court. Credit: ITV Border

A paramedic has told a trial that a pensioner allegedly unlawfully killed by her husband and son had severe open pressure sores which exposed her bones.

Two men, Robert Morgan, 61 and David Holyoak, 52, are on trial at Carlisle Crown Court for the alleged manslaughter of their respective wife and mum, Dorothy Morgan, by gross negligence.

Giving evidence on Thursday 25 January, paramedic Rebecca Hodgson said she arrived at the trio’s Calder Avenue home in Whitehaven and found Mrs Morgan lying on her back on the living room floor.

Morgan — who had told the call operator he had just completed a 12-hour night shift — was said to have stated that he “thought she was OK”, and that he wasn’t around very often as he worked in Barrow.

Miss Hodgson was told Mrs Morgan had not seen a doctor for some time. She was conscious but unresponsive and “very lethargic”, said the medic. She did, however, respond to pain as a cannula was inserted.

Oxygen saturation levels were low, blood pressure readings were “extremely low” and Mrs Morgan’s heart rate was slightly elevated. However, readings improved soon after after treatment and physical therapy was administered.

It was when Mrs Morgan was physically moved that Miss Hodgson noted multiple pressure sores which, the court heard, were graded “severe”. “Very deep,” said the paramedic of those sores. “I could see her bone on either side of the upper legs.”

Mrs Morgan, acutely unwell, was taken to the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven where she was found to be clinically dehydrated and severely malnourished.

She died 10 days later, on 4 February 2021.

Mrs Morgan died in West Cumberland Hospital ten days after being admitted.

Earlier in the day, jurors heard two phones made by the defendant Morgan on the morning of 25 January 2021.

“I’ve got a problem with the wife,” he first told a Cumbria Health on Call handler. “She has literally tried to starve herself to death over the last couple of months. She has not allowed me to get in touch with any health professionals.”

He added: “She looks like something from a death camp. She can’t go on like this.”

That comment was repeated when Morgan dialled 999 and spoke to an operator several minutes later.

“The wife has been refusing to get any kind of medical help for months,” he said. “She stopped eating. She stopped drinking. She can barely sit up now.”

“I am not supporting behaviour like this any more,” he added. “It has gone too far.”

It is alleged by the prosecution that Morgan and Holyoak, both of Calder Avenue, Whitehaven, “stood by, allowed” and effectively “watched” as their wife and mother was “left to die in her own filth”.

It is further alleged that the pair “completely failed to properly take care of her, or at the very least get her some help”.

Jurors have heard that, when interviewed by police, the two men insisted that they were following Mrs Morgan’s orders that no help be sought and that they were simply acting out her final wishes.

The trial, which is expected to last around a fortnight, continues.

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