How Jordan Burling was left to rot as mum, gran and sister condemned him to a 'lingering death'

The mother and grandmother of a teenager who was left to 'rot to death' have been jailed after police discovered his body in the living room of their house.

Thursday, 12th July 2018, 7:31 pm
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 5:42 pm
Pictured clockwise from top left, the room where Jordan Burling was discovered, grandmother Denise Cranston, sister Abigail Burling and mother Dawn Cranston.

The body of Jordan Burling, 18, was likened to that of a World War Two concentration camp victim by the authorities who found him lying on a filthy inflatable mattress, at the house in Farnley.

Weighing just six stone, Jordan died of a cardiac arrest in 2016 but this week his mother, Dawn Cranston, 45, and grandmother, Denise Cranston, 70, were found guilty of manslaughter at Leeds Crown Court and have been sentenced to jail for four and three years respectively.

Pictured clockwise from top left, the room where Jordan Burling was discovered, grandmother Denise Cranston, sister Abigail Burling and mother Dawn Cranston.

He died as a result of malnutrition, immobility and infection-riddled sores after being “allowed to decay” before his death.

Gerry Wareham, chief crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service Yorkshire and Humberside, said: "This is one of the most shocking cases CPS Yorkshire and Humberside has ever dealt with.

"These women had a duty of care towards Jordan. However, the CPS showed the court that instead they allowed him to rot to death in his own home.

West Yorkshire Police supplied photograph of Jordan Burling taken six weeks before his death.

"His bed sores were so deep they left bone exposed and when he died, he weighed less than six stone. An expert said it was the worst case of malnutrition they have seen in 26 years’ experience, and likened Jordan’s condition to that of a World War Two concentration camp victim.

"Words cannot begin to convey the extent of Jordan’s terrible suffering at the hands of the very people he should have been able to trust the most. Those responsible for that suffering have been found guilty of causing his death."

Mr Burling's sister Abigail Burling, who was found guilty of causing or allowing a vulnerable adult's death, was ordered to serve 18 months in prison.

Mr Justice Spencer said the defendants has failed to take the “humane step” of calling for help for Jordan when he was as “quite literally at death’s door”.

The judge said: “With proper medical care in hospital his life could undoubtedly have been saved.

“Instead he was condemned to a lingering death, lying for three months on an airbed and mattress in the living room of the family home, emaciated, immobile and doubly incontinent.

“No one who has seen photographs of his emaciated body lying in the room where he died, or even more so the photographs taken at his post mortem, will ever be able to forget those images.

“They are too horrific to be published.

“They are hauntingly reminiscent of starving victims in the extermination camps of the Second World War.

“His pitiful state made a deep and lasting impression on experienced paramedics and police officers who attended the scene.”

During the trial, a nursing expert described how the ulcers on Jordan’s body were the worst she had seen in 30 years of practice.

They would have taken weeks, if not months, to develop.

The judge added: “Anyone could see that such horrible wounds required immediate medical attention in hospital.

“Instead you attempted to treat those wounds yourselves, bathing them with salt water, applying nappy rash cream and covering them over with sanitary pads taped on to afford some supposed comfort.

“I cannot accept that Jordan never complained of being in pain, or showed particular signs of pain.

“Salt in the wounds and the movement of any affected limbs must have caused him excruciating pain.

“If it is true that he did not complain of pain it could only be because he was so weak and debilitated that he was unable to express it.”

Police also discovered the remains of Dawn Cranston’s full-term newborn baby, which had been stuffed into a rucksack, when they searched the property following Jordan’s death in June 2016.

Dawn Cranston has admitted endeavouring to concealing the birth of a child. During the trial Dawn admitted hiding her dead baby’s body in a wardrobe for 14 years but told the court she did not smother him to death.

She described how she put her stillborn baby in a rucksack and hid it in the wardrobe after giving birth in 2002.

Jordan’s aunt, Susan Burling, read a victim impact statement to the court on behalf of the teenager’s father.

Jordan's father, Steven Burling said he was going through a “living nightmare” coping with the loss of his son and finding out about the death of the baby son he “knew nothing about”.

He said: “I cannot understand why all these horrific things have happened to me and my family.

“I’m trying to process my feelings and reactions to the loss of my children.

“I don’t know how I’m ever going to grieve for them.

“Our family has forever changed by these events.

“My emotions and thoughts are difficult to cope with.

“My younger relatives can’t understand why I’m so difficult and quiet.

“My family and I are ordinary people who are having to deal with such a traumatic chain of events.”