Maggots feeding on the body of a morbidly obese teenager were at least 48 hours old when examined, an expert has told the trial of a man accused of neglecting his daughter.
Disabled 16-year-old Kaylea Titford died at her home in Newtown, Powys, Wales, in October 2020, when she was found by paramedics lying in soiled clothing and bed linen, Mold Crown Court has heard.
Her father, Alun Titford, 45, denies manslaughter by gross negligence but the jury in his trial has heard that Kaylea’s mother, Sarah Lloyd-Jones, 39, has pleaded guilty to the offence.
On Tuesday, forensic entomologist Amoret Whitaker said the conditions in the teenager’s bedroom were “optimal” for a colonisation of houseflies.
The court heard that Dr Whitaker looked at photos of the room and of Kaylea’s body from a post-mortem examination as well as examining some of the maggots, or larvae, which were found on Kaylea’s body, on soiled bedsheets and on absorbent pads placed around her.
Dr Whitaker said: “The fact they were so closely associated with the body and were shown inside folds of skin makes me believe they were feeding on the body itself.
“They are attracted to wounds, for instance, such as bed ulcers.”
Titford sat with his head down in the dock as the expert gave her evidence over video-link.
Dr Whitaker said she estimated the temperature of the surroundings in order to try to age the larvae.
She said: “If the larvae were developing on the body whilst it was still alive, obviously the temperature would be much hotter because the human body temperature is quite warm, so the estimate I’ve used in this particular case is based on larvae developing on a live human.”
She added: “My estimate was 48 hours as the minimum time that they had been feeding on the body and in the bedding.”
She said it was possible that the larvae, which were seized at the post-mortem the morning after Kaylea was found dead, had been developing for longer than 48 hours.
Dr Whitaker told the court she examined fly papers from Kaylea’s room, one of which had at least 60 houseflies on and another which had at least 50.
She said she was unable to say for sure whether the flies on the paper had developed in the room.
Clinical podiatrist David Blake told the court he estimated from images of Kaylea’s feet that her toenails had not been cut for six to 10 months.
He said a “chronic breakdown or ulceration” of the heel of her foot could be seen.
He added: “It would have a strong pungent smell that in a clinical environment would fill the room.”
Mr Blake said: “I have seen a number of issues and I have treated people in vulnerable conditions but the images I saw were the worst I’ve seen in my career.”
Asked by Caroline Rees KC, prosecuting, how he would describe any apparent neglect, he said: “Unacceptable.”
Kaylea weighed 22st 13lb, with a body mass index of 70, when she died, the court has heard.
The prosecution allege she was living in conditions “unfit for any animal”.
Jurors have heard that her death was a result of “inflammation and infection in extensive areas of ulceration arising from obesity and its complications, and immobility in a girl with spina bifida and hydrocephalus”.
Titford, of Colwyn, Newtown, denies manslaughter by gross negligence and an alternative count of causing or allowing the death of a child.