Mother accused of allowing teen son to 'rot to death' tells court she 'panicked' before hiding remains of baby

A mother accused of allowing her teenage son to "rot to death" has told a court how she "panicked" when she concealed the remains of her dead baby in a rucksack.

Dawn Cranston, 45, gave an account of the incident while standing trial at Leeds Crown Court for the alleged manslaughter of 18-year-old Jordan Burling by gross negligence.

Giving evidence on Thursday, she told how she endured the labour alone in her bedroom after suffering intense pains at her family home in the Farnley area of Leeds in around 2002.

She told jurors that she was completely unaware she was pregnant until she started to feel something "really heavy" in her body, and had given birth within half an hour.

Describing how she did not call for help despite other people being in the house, the defendant tearfully said: "If I remember rightly, I don't think its eyes were open.

"I heard no noise, nothing. There were no signs at all of life.

"I just panicked, as nobody else knew that I was pregnant."

The mother, who has already admitted a charge of endeavouring to conceal a birth, then told jurors that she hid the remains of the baby in a nearby rucksack, which she then stored in the top of a wardrobe in the room.

She claimed that she had intended to bury the remains, but "did not get round to it" and was unable to as there were always other people in the house.

The rucksack was finally found by police officers carrying out a search of the property following the death of Dawn Cranston's son Mr Burling in June 2016, around 14 years after the birth.

Jurors had previously heard how the teenager was found by paramedics lying on a blow-up mattress in an emaciated state, wearing a soiled nappy and weighing less than six stone.

Prosecutors claim that Mr Burling's condition resembled that of a Second World War death camp victim, and Dawn Cranston said on Thursday that she started to have concerns about his health in April 2016 when he suddenly lost weight.

Crying throughout her account of the months immediately preceding his passing, she claimed that the teenager "suddenly got to the point where he wouldn't move out of the chair or anything like that".

Jurors were told of how Mr Burling had refused to go to doctors in order to get treatment, which his mother claimed was the result of a previous bad experience where he had been turned away for being "a minute late".

She said that, despite him "talking like normal", he was clearly unwell and had to start wearing nappies after refusing to move from his chair.

The mother told how, in a failed bid to show Mr Burling how ill he looked, she showed him pictures of himself, but said: "He did not think anything was wrong."

She added: "He didn't think he would die. I didn't want him to die.

"I told him 'you've got to look after me when I get older', and he said that he would."

Dawn Cranston denies manslaughter by gross negligence, as do Mr Burling's grandmother, Denise Cranston, 70, and 25-year-old sister Abigail Burling.

Their trial continues on Friday.

PA

KEYWORDS: Court

 

Most Read in World