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Huxley man found guilty of leaving mother to die

Published date: 16 December 2013 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A MAN has been found guilty of the manslaughter of his 77-year-old mother.

Jurors after a two-week trial of businessman Colin Lennen, 59, returned a unanimous guilty verdict at Chester Crown Court.

Lennen had been accused of leaving his elderly, dementia suffering mother alone to die in agony with a broken leg at the former family home in Huxley, near Tattenhall, Chester, in January 2009.

The jury took a little over two hours to find the defendant guilty, with Lennen, who was taken to hospital on Tuesday of last week after collapsing while being cross examined on the witness stand, taken to hospital again after being taken ill.

During the trial jurors were told how Lennen, who now lives in Bedfordshire, returned home from a business meeting on January 19, 2009, to find his mother, Gladys Lennen, dead on the sofa in a room in the annexe of the home, next to blankets soiled with faeces and black bin bags covering the windows of the room.

John McDermott, prosecuting, told the court Lennen’s claim that he had checked on his mother 12 hours before her death, and his statement that she had told him she was not in pain, was a lie, and how, at the time of her death, Mrs Lennen’s leg, which had a fractured femur, had been completely twisted, causing her “catastrophic” pain.

A pathologist had told jurors that the examinations on Mrs Lennen’s leg had concluded she would have suffered with a fractured thigh bone at least 12 hours before her death.

Following his mother’s death, Lennen, who denied the charges of manslaughter and said his mother showed no discomfort from her leg in the days leading up to her death, admitted to police in an emotional state that he had struggled to care for his mother, who had moved into the family home from Cumbria after her health began to deteriorate and she was found wandering the streets.

Lennen had told police that he had checked on his mother at 6.30am on the day of her death and said she seemed “normal but quiet”. He and is wife Janice, who was due to stand trial but had the charges dropped on medical grounds, left their home at The Beeches, Huxley, just after 1.30pm on the day of her death for a trip to Chester.

Lennen also told police his son, Andrew, who was at home on the day, had checked on his grandmother, who appeared to be sleeping on the sofa in her usual way.

Rejecting Lennen’s claims, Mr McDermott said: “Gladys Lennen spent at least 12 hours in serious pain/discomfort before she died. This is a terrible, uncaring and neglectful episode in Colin Lennen’s life, one which caused his mother’s death. It may be that months of looking after her (Mrs Lennen) took its toll.

“Colin Lennen and his wife did nothing to help her. Colin Lennen and his wife, knowing how injured she was, left her to die in terrible pain.”

While giving evidence last week, Lennen denied the manslaughter of his mother, claiming that he loved her and ‘would not have done anything to hurt her’.

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 had been seeking a care plan for her health problems. Lennen also said he had only found out retrospectively that a doctor had tried to call him to arrange an emergency respite review for his mother.

When asked by Philippa McAtasney, QC, defending, whether he heard any cries of pain from his mother when he left the home, Lennen said: “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 also told how Lennen had sent an email to his mothers GP informing him of her death three days afterward, with Lennen claiming that the purpose of the email was to bring ‘closure’ and to try and make sense of her death.

Rejecting the claims, Mr McDermott said: “That was your way of getting your defence in first because you knew you and others allowed your mother to die in your house.”

Lennen will be sentenced by the Recorder of Chester, Judge Elgan Edwards, presiding, at a later date.

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