Mother jailed after abandoning vulnerable daughter to die alone in squalid bedroom

A woman who abandoned her “vulnerable” daughter to die alone in pain in her squalid bedroom has been jailed for nine years and seven months.

The emaciated body of Debbie Leitch (pictured), 24, who was born with Down syndrome, was discovered at her family home in Blackpool, Lancashire, in August 2019.

The scene that greeted emergency services was “truly shocking” as her face was “completely encrusted with scabs and thickened skin, such that she was no longer recognisable as being a young female”, Preston Crown Court heard.

A post-mortem examination gave the cause of death as severe emaciation and neglect with extensive and severe scabies skin infection.

Her mother Elaine Clarke, 49, who received weekly benefit payments of £215 to care for Miss Leitch, pleaded guilty in December to gross negligence manslaughter after she initially denied the offence.

Sentencing her on Thursday, Mrs Justice Yip said Miss Leitch’s condition had “deteriorated dramatically” in the months leading up to her death.

She told the defendant: “Nothing was done to halt her decline. Debbie was starved, her scabies was allowed to run out of control, she became more and more weakened until she died.

“In her last days, she was denied even the most basic care and dignity.

“Anyone entering her room and seeing her towards the end of her life could have been left with no doubt that her life was in real danger.

“One way or another, you ignored that risk and left Debbie to die in her squalid room.”

In 2016 when Miss Leitch lived in Leeds, she weighed 10st 1lb but she only weighed 3st 10lb at the time of her death, the court heard.

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