Kaylea Titford: Teachers tried in vain to get 'fiercely independent' teen back to school
The trial of a Powys man accused of causing the death of his daughter by allegedly allowing her to become morbidly obese has heard that she was “fiercely independent”. Kaylea Titford, 16, who died in in October 2020, was a disabled teenager who was allegedly bed ridden and living in squalor before her death.
Staff and people who cared for her at the Powys school she attended have given evidence for the first time on Friday at Mold Crown Court.Ms Titford had spina bifida and needed a wheelchair to get around.The court heard on Friday that teachers had tried in vain to get the teenager to come back to school in September 2020.
She had not attended since March 2020, when Wales went into lockdown.Jurors heard numerous telephone calls had been made from teachers at Newtown High School to her mother Sarah Lloyd Jones – including one on 9 October, the day before Kaylea was discovered dead in her bed.
In a written statement, Assistant Headteacher Ben Jones said he had personally contacted Kaylea’s mother. He said “various reasons” had been given for Kaylea’s absence.
His statement read, “I discussed with Sarah the importance of attending.
“I told Sarah I expected to see Kaylea on Monday the 12 October”.
Sian Swanson was Kaylea’s Head of Year.
In a written statement she said she had made numerous calls to the family but had been given multiple reasons for her non attendance.
She called on 14 September 2020 and she said, “I spoke to Sarah on the phone. She told me Kaylea’s wheelchair was broken”.
A log from the school shows numerous calls were made to the family throughout September and October. Despite plans to return Kaylea did not and reasons including anxiety and a bad stomach were given.
The first witness to take the stand was Belinda Jones who worked with Kaylea as a learning support assistant at the school between September 2016 and 2019.
She supported her in lessons and break time and said she had a good relationship with her.
“She was really independent,” she said.
Miss Jones said she enjoyed her company and described Kaylea as “funny and chatty. She was a lovely, lovely girl”.
The court heard that she was able to care for the majority of her personal hygiene needs and got around well in her wheelchair.
Miss Jones told the court that Kaylea participated in PE and enjoyed basketball and dodgeball.
“When she first came to school I think she was looked at for the Paralympics - either for basketball or tennis,” she said.
At the time of Kaylea’s death she weighed around 23 stone.
Caroline Rees KC prosecuting asked, "Did she ever talk to you about how she felt about the weight gain?”
Miss Jones replied, “She did speak to me once about seeing a nutritionist and I made a joke about being overweight and we could lose weight together”.
She said she laughed at the comment.
Miss Jones, who cared for Kaylea until she was 14 also recalled how she had her picture taken at school.
“She didn’t like having her photo taken, I don’t know why….she did do it though and she must’ve been the only child with her thumbs up”.
Defence barrister David Elias KC asked if it was Kaylea’s mum who always dealt with school matters.
“Yes” was the reply.
He continued “Kaylea came across as fiercely independent…. As well as being fiercely independent, she could be stubborn.”
“Yes” agreed Belinda Jones.
"She remained that way for as long as you knew her?", Elias asked.
Kaylea's father Alun Titford denies manslaughter by gross negligence and allowing or causing the death of his daughter.
Her mother Sarah Lloyd Jones previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter through gross negligence.
The trial has been adjourned until Monday.