Kaylea Titford: Parents jailed in 'harrowing' case of obese daughter's death

Kaylea weighed 22st 13lb with a BMI of 70 at the time of her death. Credit: PA Images
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A mother and father who allowed their disabled daughter to become morbidly obese and die have been jailed in Wales' first televised court hearing.

Kaylea Titford, who suffered from spina bifida, was found dead at her home in Newtown, Powys after her mother and father allowed the teenager's condition to deteriorate so much she died.

The 16-year-old weighed 22st 13lb with a BMI of 70 at the time of her death in October 2020.

Her mother, Sarah Lloyd-Jones, 40, admitted manslaughter by gross negligence last year, while her father, Alun Titford, 45, denied the charges and was found guilty after a trial in January.

Alun Titford and Sarah Lloyd-Jones were both jailed at Swansea Crown Court on March 1. Credit: Dyfed Powys Police

On Wednesday 1 March, Sarah Lloyd-Jones was sentenced to six years imprisonment. Alun Titford was sentenced to seven years, six months imprisonment. Both were told they must serve two-thirds of their sentences in custody before being considered for release.

Passing sentence on Sarah Lloyd-Jones and Alun Titford at Swansea Crown Court, Mr Justice Griffiths said they had committed “shocking and prolonged neglect over lockdown”.

Kaylea 'lived and died in squalor and degradation'

Kaylea's bed appeared dirty with clutter surrounding the bedroom Credit: Dyfed Powys Police

“(Kaylea) would not allow people so much as to push her wheelchair or open a door for her. Everything she could do for herself, she did,” the judge said.

“But she died just after her 16th birthday.

“You, Sarah Lloyd-Jones, her mother, and you, Alun Titford, her father, caused her death by shocking and prolonged neglect over lockdown.

Caroline Rees KC, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court: “By the time of her death between October 9-10, Kaylea Titford was living in conditions unfit for any animal, let alone for a vulnerable 16-year-old girl who depended on others for her care.

“Kaylea lived and died in squalor and degradation.”

She added: “Kaylea was bed-bound for many months before her death. Kaylea had not used the toilet or shower since before lockdown. During the last months of her life she was bed-bound, eating, sleeping and defecating in her own bed.”

Ms Rees explained that the 16-year-old's condition worsened and the family’s spending on takeaways increased.

The court heard how Kaylea skin was “severely inflamed and ulcerated, so deeply in areas that the fat was exposed”. Maggots were observed on her “filthy” body that were said to have been there “in life, as well as death”, Ms Rees said.

Kaylea has not returned to school since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 and had not seen a doctor for at least six months. The court heard: “Because of the lockdown, Kaylea’s exposure to those outside her family was extremely limited. This allowed both defendants to avoid the scrutiny of the outside world”.

Lloyd-Jones had previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence while Titford was convicted of the same offence after trial.

Alun Titford arrives at Swansea Crown Court to be sentenced for manslaughter by gross negligence. Credit: PA

His trial heard Kaylea, who had spina bifida and used a wheelchair, died after suffering inflammation and infection from ulceration, arising from obesity and immobility.

Emergency service workers, who were called to the house after she was found on October 10, described feeling sick due to a “rotting” smell in her room.

Following her death, maggots were found which were thought to have been feeding on her body, the jury was told.

The court heard that her bedsheets were soiled and she was lying on a number of puppy toilet training pads.

Her room was said to be dirty and cluttered, with bottles of urine and a chip fryer with drips of fat down the side, as well as a full cake in a box.

Kaylea was described as ‘funny and chatty’ by school staff Credit: Family Handout/PA

Kaylea had attended Newtown High School, where she was described as “funny and chatty” by staff, but did not return following the coronavirus lockdown in March 2020.

Asked during his evidence why he had let his daughter down so badly, the removals worker said: “I’m lazy.”

Titford, who had six children with Lloyd-Jones, said the family would order takeaways four or five nights a week and he thought Kaylea had put on two or three stone since March.

The prosecution alleged that Kaylea had not used her wheelchair, which became too small for her, since the start of lockdown.

Kaylea Titford’s bedroom at her home in Newtown, Powys Credit: Dyfed Powys Police/PA

Caroline Rees KC, prosecuting, asked Titford: “She hadn’t been out of bed, had she?”

But he claimed he had seen her in the kitchen of the house in her wheelchair during that period, despite telling police in interview that he had not seen her out of bed.

The court heard that Kaylea had been discharged from physiotherapy and dietetics services in the years before her death and had last been seen by a social worker at home in 2017.

Titford claimed Lloyd-Jones, who was a community care worker, was responsible for looking after Kaylea.

He said he used to take her to medical appointments and care for her but stepped back when she reached puberty as he was not “comfortable”.

In cross-examination he accepted he was as much to blame for Kaylea’s death as her mother.

Review must leave 'no stone unturned'

An NSPCC Cymru spokesperson said: “This is an incredibly distressing case.

“The conscious, prolonged neglect of Kaylea Titford by her parents, Sarah Lloyd-Jones and Alun Titford, ultimately caused the teenager’s death.

"People will be asking how any child in our society could suffer like this without anyone intervening to prevent such a tragedy.

"The forthcoming Child Safeguarding Practice Review must leave no stone unturned in establishing what more could have been done to protect Kaylea so other children do not suffer such appalling neglect unnoticed."