Sheffield mother locked autistic son in attic until he almost starved to death

Lorna and Craig Hewitt
Lorna and Craig Hewitt kept the man locked in an attic Credit: South Yorkshire Police

A mother who kept her autistic son locked in an attic and starved him until he was days from death has been found guilty of false imprisonment and neglect.

Lorna Hewitt was convicted along with her husband Craig Hewitt following a trial at Sheffield Crown Court.

The court heard that the victim was 6ft tall but weighed just six stone when he was found by paramedics following a 999 call in June 2021.

He had been kept in an attic bedroom, with a lock on the outside of the door. The room was covered in rubbish and human excrement. Food had been delivered to him in a box.

South Yorkshire Police said the man was covered in bruises and abrasions and his finger and toenails were so long they were causing him pain.

His hair was long and unkempt and his teeth were severely stained with orange plaque.

Medical experts said he must have been fed just a few hundred calories a day over the period of months and believe he was just a few days from death when he was found.

After being admitted to hospital, the man was taken straight into intensive care and has since recovered.

Temporary Det Sgt Susannah Taylor, from South Yorkshire's Protecting Vulnerable People Team, led the investigation.

She said: "This was an horrific case in which the victim could well have lost his life as his organs were shutting down.

"He had to be placed into intensive care in a life-threatening condition. Thankfully he has since made a full recovery and is now getting the support and care he needs."

Jill Brookes, from the Crown Prosecution Service, added: "This was a shocking case. The victim’s life was hanging by a thread when he was discovered.

"I cannot begin to imagine the physical and mental suffering he endured at the hands of his mother and step-father.

"The very people who should have offered him love and protection instead subjected him to a horrific months-long ordeal which nearly killed him." 

Lorna and Craig Hewitt, of Walkley Road, Sheffield, will be sentenced on 18 February.