Kaylea Titford: A life of shocking and abhorrent neglect that could have been so different

Bedroom and still of Kaylea
Teenager Kaylea was a promising talent according to her school, but she was hidden away until she died Credit: Dyfed Powys Police/Athena Picture Agency
  • Warning: Contains graphic details some viewers may find distressing

Kaylea Titford was a vulnerable teenager who spent the last few months of her short life completely hidden from the outside world.

It was only when a 999 call was made that the abhorrent conditions in which she had lived and died in were revealed.

She was 16-year-old girl who died less than two weeks after her landmark birthday - celebratory balloons and a birthday cake were still near her bed in a “filthy” room not fit for animals.

Dead flies are seen in Kaylea's bedroom in between a birthday balloon and her school uniform Credit: Dyfed Powys Police

In the months before her death, her mother and father, Sarah Lloyd Jones and Alun Titford, neglected their “happy, funny and determined” child who had been born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus - a condition which causes a build-up of fluid in the brain.

The morbidly obese teenager who needed a wheelchair to get around was left bedridden.

Unable to access anything outside the confined space, she was lying on soiled sheets in her own faeces. 

Plastic bottles containing her urine were littered across the floor.

She had sores and ulcers all over her legs but because of her disability, she could feel no pain. Instead of sterile medical dressings, pads used to toilet train puppies were used.  

Her hair was matted, her toenails which had not been cut for at least six months looked like claws. Her fingernails were filthy, and her armpits black from dirt and sweat.

Kaylea's bedroom was cluttered and dirty Credit: Dyfed Powys Police

On the evening of the 9 October, Kaylea Titford, who had been suffering from a cold, had been in bed on her mobile phone.

Around 10.30pm that night she was heard screaming and shouting. This was not unusual behaviour and telephone records show her father Alun Titford messaged her and told her to stop screaming.

That was possibly the last time he communicated with his daughter.

Around 8am the next morning, her mother Sarah Lloyd Jones ran upstairs to the bedroom where her partner was. Kaylea could not be woken.

Alun Titford called his mother before emergency services. It is his mother who calls them at 8.03am on the morning of 10 October.

She told the call handler, “She’s cold and won’t wake up. This morning she’s cold”.

They responded, “You don’t know if she’s awake or breathing?”

“I don’t know,” comes the reply. She does not know because she is not at the address.

The ambulance service asked for a number for someone in the house - Alun Titford is phoned.

“Are you able to wake her?” he is asked.

“No” comes the reply.

“Are you able to move her?”

“No, she’s too big”. He tells the call handler, “I do removals and I still can’t move her.”

Kayleigh weighed nearly 23 stone and has a BMI of 70.

The first person on the scene is paramedic Gareth Wyn-Evans. He has driven alone in his ambulance with the blue lights on. He arrives around 8.10am that morning.

He is directed to a downstairs room made into a bedroom. He finds Kaylea sitting upright in bed with her chin resting on her chest. He notices the room is “cluttered, untidy and dirty”.

The sheets she lay on were “dirty, stained and appeared not to have been changed for some time”. 

He declares nothing can be done and Kaylea is dead.

On closer inspection of the room, he sees a pile of clothes on top of Kaylea’s wheelchair and crockery too.

Her appearance surprised him, he said. “She appeared larger than what I was expecting. She was broader, her hair was greasy”.

The paramedic with more than 12 years experience went outside. When he came back he pulled the duvet off Kaylea’s body. “I was hit with a smell,” he said.

“I can’t describe it. It was a smell I’ve never smelled before… It was a damp smell. It was a horrific smell”. It made the experienced paramedic retch and he had to get out for fresh air.

The stench from her body was described by police as “rotting alive”.

Kaylea's bedroom was cluttered with food, waste and urine bottles Credit: Dyfed Powys Police

Detective Constable Steve Williams from Dyfed Powys Police was called to the scene. He said the teenager’s bedroom was full of things you would not expect to see.

It was “very cluttered, there was a pool table in the room and on it were boxes and boxes of unused medical supplies.”

Her hoist to get her in and out of bed was dirty and looked unused. It was covered with “dust and cobwebs” he told the court. 

He said what struck him first was the “dark and dingy nature of the room”.

The blinds on the window were closed and there were fly papers hanging from the ceiling to trap the insects.

Those flies had been maggots, living on and around Kaylea’s body - still present the day she died.

DC Williams told Mold Crown Court he is used to attending scenes where there has been a sudden death - but this was different.

“There was a dank, musty, unclean stench in the air. I’m used to the smell of death…. I knew there was somebody dead inside but it was still a shock.”

When asked by the prosecution to describe the smell, he replied “rotting flesh”.

He added “Some live flies flew into my face as I rolled her forward.

“I know death… it didn’t compute with someone who’d died just hours earlier.”

Her legs were described as “dry, rotten, ulcerated”. He said he “wasn’t sure how much skin was left in some places”.

He said there were ulcers “just everywhere - all over the lower limbs”.

The vulnerable teenager had not seen a GP or any other medical professional for around nine months before her death.

Shocking footage shows the squalid conditions teenager Kaylea Titford was living in before her death:

Warning: Video contains graphic footage some viewers may find distressing

Source: Dyfed Powys Police

Life for Kaylea changed when the pandemic struck and Wales went into lockdown in March 2020.

Already struggling with her weight and with a wheelchair uncomfortably tight, she put on more weight - between two to three stone in a matter of months.

The family had takeaways up to five times a week.

Food waste, sweet wrappers and fizzy drink bottles were littered around her room. She was isolated from the outside world. 

And yet life could have been so different for Kaylea.

She was described by teaching assistants at her school in Newtown as “lovely”. They remembered a “fiercely independent” child who proudly cared for herself. She had a talent for wheelchair basketball and a place in a future Paralympics team had been mooted.

Kaylea was a promising wheelchair basketball player.

She was particularly close to Belinda Jones who was her Learning Support Assistant at Newtown High School.

She worked with her for three years. She recalled a “funny, chatty girl” whose company she enjoyed. She remembered a youngster with a good sense of humour and recalled a time when she was the only person in the school to have a photograph taken with her thumbs up.

On another occasion she talked of coming out of a lesson with Kaylea who was already ahead of her in her wheelchair.

“I said, 'Don’t go running off!' and she said, ‘Miss, as if I could’. I was embarrassed but she was laughing and she never let me forget it”. 

When schools re-opened after the pandemic, Kaylea never returned.

Teachers repeatedly phoned her home and spoke to her mother but Mold Crown Court heard there was excuse after excuse.

They were told her wheelchair had broken, she had stomach aches and she was anxious about returning as she had been bullied.

Her mother Sarah Lloyd Jones pledged she would be back the next day, or after the weekend, but that day never arrived. Those at her school never saw Kaylea again. 

Kaylea's mother had taken a job as a carer in 2018 and during lockdown would work and come home to check on Kaylea.  She had no help from Alun Titford who worked as a removal man. When home, he would spend time in his room eating and watching television.

He said the last physical contact he had with his daughter was on her birthday on 27th September - he went in to give her a hug and a kiss. He admits he was a lazy father who could have done more.

There was no additional support for Kaylea or her family. No respite or help was offered nor was it requested. 

Questions will be now asked around how a vulnerable teenager could have been isolated from the outside world and neglected to such an extent it killed her.