A BUSINESSMAN who was found guilty of the manslaughter of his mother has been spared jail because he ‘broke’ under the strain of his personal life.
Colin Lennen, 60, was found guilty at Chester Crown Court of his 77-year-old mother Gladys’ death at the former family home in Huxley, near Tattenhall.
Lennen, who now lives in Bedford, was convicted after a two week trial of leaving his elderly, dementia-suffering mother alone to die in agony with a broken leg in January, 2009.
During the trial jurors were told how Lennen 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 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 and the jury unanimously convicted Lennen.
But yesterday Judge Elgan Edwards, the Recorder of Chester, gave Lennen a two year sentence suspended for two years and ordered him to do 200 hours of unpaid work after he heard how Lennen had “broke” under the strain of looking after his increasingly unwell mother and his wife, Janice, who had cancer.
Philippa McAtasney, QC, defending, said Lennen had promised his mother he would never send her to a home or let her die in hospital after she moved into the family home due to her increasing ill health after she was found wandering the streets in her native Cumbria.
Miss McAtasney said in hindsight this promise had caused Lennen “enormous strain” and “ruined” him as he battled to look after his increasingly ill mother and wife and tried to keep the family business afloat to provide for his children.
She said: “This is a tragic case. Colin Lennen loved his mother and the only conclusion we can make is that he broke under the enormous strain. He was under huge pressure and stress and he was unable to sleep.
“He failed to notice the broken leg and the greatest punishment for him is that he has unlawfully killed his own mother in the eyes of the jury.
“This case has ruined Mr Lennen, financially, mentally and physically. This offence was totally and utterly out of character.”
Chester Crown Court also heard that this offence had been hanging over him for four years as the case was repeatedly delayed due to Lennen’s wife being seriously ill. The effect of this had caused Lennen to become increasingly physically and mentally unwell. As a result of this when Lennen was giving evidence during his trial he collapsed and the trial had to be adjourned for two days until he recovered.
Miss McAtasney asked for any custodial sentence to be suspended as an act of “exceptional leniency”.
In sentencing, Judge Edwards, said “no good would come of it” to send Lennen to prison due to his, and his wife’s ill health.
He said: “It is a terrible thing to see a man of your age being convicted by a jury of the manslaughter of your own mother through gross neglect.
“The facts on which you are convicted is that you left your mother when she was in agony.
“Having said that I have seen the evidence which shows you are not in good health and nor is your wife.
“Prison is inevitable in this case but I am persuaded by your representation that it is possible for me to take an exceptional course.
“I have taken into account your health and your wife’s health and no good would come of it.”
After the sentence in court Lennen thanked the judge as the sentence would allow him to get his life back on track and support his wife through her illness and he repeated that he loved his mother.