A cannabis grower from Elland has been jailed for neglecting his 88-year-old grandmother after she died in squalid conditions weighing under four stones at the house they shared.
Robert Daniels had converted part of the rented property in Ryecroft Road, Glusburn, near Keighley, into a large scale cannabis farm and his criminal activities were discovered when police and paramedics were called out following June Cox’s death in January last year.
A judge heard today (Friday) how the frail pensioner, who suffered from various health problems including advanced dementia, was found dead on a camp bed covered with a sleeping bag.
Prosecutor Richard Wright QC said a post mortem revealed that she died from a chest infection, but at the time she was badly malnourished and weighed just three-and-a-half stone.
The court heard there was no obvious source of heat in the cold ground floor room and the sleeping bag and camp bed were soaked in urine.
Mr Wright said: “Once the body was removed the bed was revealed to comprise a camp bed frame and a thin mattress covered in bin liners. The bin liners and mattress were filthy with urine and faeces.”
Daniels, who had been close to his grandmother and had cared for her for 13 years, told police that her health had been declining in recent weeks and she had complained of feeling unwell when he put her to bed the night before.
Mr Wright said: “He confirmed that he had made no attempt to access a doctor or other assistance in the days leading up to death when he had believed her to be exhibiting signs consistent with the approach of the end of her life.”
In July last year Daniels, of One Cliff Mills, Elland, was jailed for 40 months for drug dealing, cannabis production and money laundering and he was later charged with manslaughter in relation to his grandmother’s death.
In March Daniels, 37, pleaded guilty to a charge of neglect of a person who lacked capacity and the manslaughter allegation was ordered to lie on the file.
Yesterday Daniels was sentenced to a consecutive sentence of eight months in jail for the neglecting his grandmother.
The court heard that Mrs Cox was reluctant to engage with medical practitioners of any sort and her last appointment with a doctor was in April 2015.
Mr Wright conceded: “It is also a feature of the evidence that many who knew her describe her as a woman of strong character who was herself prone to neglecting her hygiene and cleanliness over a protracted period prior to her losing capacity.
“That said, the defendant assumed her care, was plainly aware that she was very ill, made no effort to seek help of any kind and the condition of her clothing and person at the time she died can only be described as squalid and filthy.”
Mrs Cox’s daughter Diane had seen her mother and nephew in a car about three weeks before her death and Mr Wright said she was shocked by her condition.
She asked Daniels to take her mother to the doctor and although he said he would he never made an appointment.
Barrister James Hill QC, for Daniels, highlighted his client’s own psychological traits and submitted that the defendant had not been deliberately ill-treating his grandmother over the seven-week period leading up to her death.
He added: “This is someone who was doing his inadequate best for a long period of time, but then, for a combination of reasons not just his personality, but his grandmother’s personality, wasn’t able to take the steps that the law requires people to take to protect people who are vulnerable.”
Jailing Daniels for the neglect Judge Penelope Belcher told Daniels: “I’m not and I do not seek to sentence you for causing her death. I am dealing with you for the neglect of her in her dying days.”
She said she had a concern that the presence of the cannabis farm in the house had been some motivation for Daniels to refuse access to other family members and health professionals.
The judge said Daniels should also have over-ridden his grandmother’s determination not to seek medical help.
Daniels himself addressed the judge before he was sentenced and said he didn’t realise something was seriously wrong until he put his grandmother to bed that night.
He said he was going to take her to hospital the next day, but he left it too late and would have to live with that for the rest of his life.