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Disabled man ‘found close to death after his parents imprisoned him in bedroom strewn with faeces’

Disabled man, 22, ‘was found weighing just 6 stone and close to death after his parents imprisoned him in bedroom strewn with faeces and vomit’

  • Lorna Hewitt and her husband Craig are said to have kept her son locked in attic 
  • Matthew Langley, 22, was found by paramedics weighing six stone, court heard 
  • Police had found faeces and vomit in Matthew’s attic bedroom all over the floor 
  • Craig Hewitt, 42, and Lorna Hewitt, 43, pleaded not guilty to all of the charges 


A disabled man was ‘found close to death’ after allegedly being imprisoned by his mother in an attic bedroom that was strewn with faeces and vomit, a court heard. 

Lorna Hewitt, 43, and her husband Craig, 42, allegedly kept her autistic son Matthew Langley, 22, locked up in the attic of their home in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, for seven months.

Matthew was found by paramedics seriously underweight at just six stone, dehydrated and ‘with his life hanging in the balance’, Sheffield Crown Court heard. 

Police found faeces and vomit all over the floor and bedding in Matthew’s attic bedroom, along with buzzing flies, a bad smell and a key on the outside of the door, the court was told.

Lorna Hewitt (pictured), 43, and her husband Craig, 42, allegedly kept her autistic son Matthew Langley, 22, locked in the attic of their home in Sheffield for seven months

The ambulance service was called to the family home in the early hours of June 2, 2020, according to Nicholas Campbell QC, prosecuting.

Matthew was rushed to a hospital intensive care unit in a ‘pitiable state’ with abrasions indicating he had been moving around on all fours, the prosecutor said.

The court heard that Matthew, who has irritable bowel syndrome, incontinence, arthritis and learning difficulties, had suffered damage to a kidney with high sodium levels relating to severe dehydration.

Mr Campbell added: ‘His sodium levels were dangerously high. They measured 180. They were so high they could shut down his brain and kill him. Anything above 145, there is a real chance of death.

‘The Home Office pathologist examined the injuries and said the abrasions and bruises were consistent in his view with Matthew having been crawling on all fours over objects in his path.’ 

Matthew weighed just six stone when he was found, despite having weighed eight-and-a-half stone just seven months earlier in November 2019, the court heard.  

Matthew was found by paramedics seriously underweight at just six stone, dehydrated and 'with his life hanging in the balance', Sheffield Crown Court heard. Pictured: Craig Hewitt

Matthew was found by paramedics seriously underweight at just six stone, dehydrated and ‘with his life hanging in the balance’, Sheffield Crown Court heard. Pictured: Craig Hewitt

Craig Hewitt (pictured) told police his wife Lorna had found Matthew upstairs lying on the floor. He claimed Matthew had been fed and that he ate in his room

Craig Hewitt and Lorna Hewitt (pictured) pleaded not guilty to false imprisonment from between November 2019 to June 2, 2020

Craig Hewitt (left) and Lorna Hewitt (right) pleaded not guilty to false imprisonment from between November 2019 to June 2, 2020

Mr Campbell said Matthew made a good physical recovery thanks to medical professionals and he weighed 55kg when he was discharged from hospital.

Craig Hewitt told police his wife Lorna had found Matthew upstairs lying on the floor. He claimed Matthew had been fed and that he ate in his room.

After police found a key on the outside of Matthew’s bedroom door, Craig claimed there were locks on the internal doors because their home used to be a student accommodation.

He also told police that his stepson Matthew had only been locked in at night because he would go downstairs and set off security alarms.

Lorna Hewitt chose to give no comment answers to all questions asked by the police, the court heard.

Mr Campbell told the jury: ‘It’s a matter for you that you may think that as the pressures grew they were prepared to gamble with his health in order that he would be taken off their hands and be looked after by others.’

Craig Hewitt and Lorna Hewitt pleaded not guilty to false imprisonment from between November 2019 to June 2, 2020.

Both defendants also pleaded not guilty to causing or allowing a vulnerable adult to suffer serious harm between the same dates.

The trial continues.

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