'I loved my mum,' said man accused over her death

Published date: 11 December 2013 |
Published by: Natalie Barnett 
Read more articles by Natalie Barnett  Email reporter


A MAN accused of the manslaughter of his elderly mother wept as he told jurors: “I loved my mum. I would not have done anything to hurt her.”

Colin Lennen, 59, is accused of leaving his 77-year old mother Gladys to die in agony with a fractured femur, but Lennen denies knowing his mother had suffered a broken leg leading up to her death in January, 2009.

Prosecutors say Mrs Lennen would have experienced catastrophic pain in the hours before her death, but Lennen said his mother showed no signs of pain or discomfort to the leg in question in her final days.

A pathologist told the Chester Crown Court trial yesterday how examinations concluded Mrs Lennen suffered with a fractured thigh bone for at least 12 hours before she died.

Lennen sobbed as he recalled the moment he discovered his mother dead on the sofa. She was frail, with rapidly deteriorating health and was in the advanced stages of dementia.

Lennen, his wife Janice, and their son had been to a business meeting in Chester and returned to the family home in Huxley, near Tattenhall, just after 6.30pm to find Mrs Lennen dead.

Lennen said: “Every time I went in to her room, mum would always say ‘Is that you son?’, and that day when I walked in she didn’t say it at all. I could see from her posture that my mum was dead. She had died without me saying goodbye.”

Lennen said he found his mother on the floor wrapped in a blanket on the night before she died and it was thought she had fallen.

“I walked into the room to say goodnight and I saw mum on the floor. I said what has happened mum? Oh mum what are you doing? And she said ‘I don’t know son’.

“I picked my mum up like a baby and put her back on the sofa.

“It was so terrible to see my mother go that way.”

In the lead up to her death, Mrs Lennen was losing weight, eating food supplements, was incontinent and had developed an ulcer-like sore on her right ankle. Lennen and his wife had taken Mrs Lennen to the doctors for treatment and the couple had been seeking a care plan for her health problems.

Lennen said he only found out retrospectively a doctor had tried to call him to arrange an emergency respite review for his mother.

Mr Lennen said his son had been at home with his grandmother on the day she died and had told his father she had seemed okay when he had checked in on her earlier.

Lennen said he was having his car valeted on the morning of his mother’s death and he said he had parked the car near the window of the annexe where his mother was. He added he had opened a skylight window, purposely, but he did not hear her make any sounds of pain or discomfort. His mother had seemed quiet, as if she did not want to be bothered when Lennen went in to  say goodbye before leaving for his meeting just before 1pm.

Philippa McAtasney QC, defending, asked Lennen: “When you left, did you hear any cries of pain or discomfort from your mother?”

He replied: “Absolutely not. There is no way I would go to a meeting if my mother, wife, or child needed help. The last thing I would do is hurt my mother. I would never do anything like that to an old woman, who was my mother.”

The jury was told Lennen had sent an email to his mother’s GP informing him of her death three days afterwards. Lennen said the purpose of the email was to bring “closure” and to try to determine how she had come to suffer her leg injury, to try to make sense of her death.

But John McDermott, prosecuting, said Lennen had sent the email by way of his defence. “That was your way of getting your defence in first because you knew you and others allowed your mother to die in your house.”

Not at all, said Lennen, who added he just wanted the best for his mother.


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