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Father and stepson guilty of manslaughter

|News, Violent crime

A man and his stepson have been found guilty of manslaughter, following the death of Dorothy Morgan in Whitehaven in February 2021.

Robert Morgan, 60, and David Holyoak, 52, denied manslaughter throughout the court proceedings but were found guilty after a trial at Carlisle Crown Court.

The deceased, Dorothy Morgan, was Robert Morgan’s wife and David Holyoak’s mother.

The alarm was raised on 25 January 2021, when paramedics were called to the address in Whitehaven, Cumbria, where Mrs Morgan lived with the two men.

Mrs Morgan was found emaciated, unkempt and in heavily soiled clothes. She was suffering from pressure sores in various areas and ulceration where pressure sores had become inflamed and infected.

Mrs Morgan was taken to West Cumberland Hospital where she was also found to be suffering from acute kidney failure and sepsis. She was extremely underweight, and her toes were gangrenous.

Further medical investigations revealed the presence of cancer, unfortunately her condition meant she would be unable to withstand any cancer treatment.

She sadly died on 4 February 2021. A pathologist confirmed that she had a malignant tumour on her right lung, but they confirmed that the tumour had played no part in her death. 

The severe emaciated state of Mrs Morgan and the neglected pressure sores were the main cause of her death.

Further investigation by a geriatrician revealed that the pressure ulceration would have been increasing in severity for at least three weeks and possibly six weeks, before she developed sepsis.

The level of dehydration was such that Mrs Morgan had not had adequate fluids for around seven to 10 days.

The doctor confirmed that the presence of gangrenous toes suggested that the dehydration levels were at the upper end of the range and Mrs Morgan would have been drowsy for two to three days before any medical attention was sought.

Despite the postmortem and other medical evidence, both Morgan and Holyoak denied manslaughter, claiming they were simply carrying out her wishes to have no medical attention.

The pair will be sentenced on a later date.

Gail O’Brien, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West complex casework unit, said: ”This is one of the worst cases of manslaughter by gross negligence I have seen.

“It would have been clear to both men that Mrs Morgan was suffering from a lack of basic care and medical attention, still they failed to call for assistance until it was too late.

“The CPS worked hard with Cumbria Constabulary to build a strong case ensuring that all the medical and pathology evidence was before the court. The jury agreed with the CPS that both men were guilty of manslaughter.

“My thoughts are very much with the family of Dorothy Morgan.”

Notes to editors

  • David Alan Holyoak DOB 29/01/1971
  • Robert Morgan DOB 25/01/1963.

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