'Extreme' hoarder, 93, and son left daughter to die in 'horrific' bedroom conditions

31 March 2022, 17:41

Father and son Cecil and Philip Burdett arriving at Leicester Crown Court
Father and son Cecil and Philip Burdett arriving at Leicester Crown Court. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

An immobile and vulnerable woman died in "horrific" conditions in a bedroom after her 93-year-old father and 59-year-old brother failed to care for her or seek medical help, a court has heard.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Prosecutors allege "extreme" hoarders Ralph Burdett and his son, Philip, left Julie Burdett to suffer "dreadful" injuries "surrounded by filth and squalor" for around two weeks in January 2019.

Philip was paid a carer's allowance of £60 per week to help his sister, Leicester Crown Court heard.

She was found dead, weighing just 4st 10lb when paramedics were finally called to her Leicester home at around 3.30pm on January 15.

Jurors were told she died from extreme ulcerations, and an expert who examined the body said she had "never seen such a severe level of pressure damage" in her 40-year career.

The defendants, from Leicester, both deny manslaughter. They told police they did not call for medical assistance because it was "against Julie's wishes".

Read more: Former world darts champion Ted Hankey, 54, charged with sexual assault

Read more: Moment suspected killer laughs at cops and says 'I warned them I was going to murder him'

Philip Burdett arriving at Leicester Crown Court.
Philip Burdett arriving at Leicester Crown Court. Picture: Alamy

Opening the case against them on Thursday, prosecutor Timothy Cray QC told the jury: "What you are going to hear in this court room is going be hard for you to forget - ever, I should think.

He went on to say: "The reason you are here is because someone died, a woman who was called Julie Burdett.

"We, that is the prosecution, say that Julie's death was entirely avoidable and that the fault for her death lies with these defendants.

"Our case is that Julie died from neglect: because these defendants, who were meant to care for her, did not care for her."

Ms Burdett was described in court as intelligent and articulate but she had developed a disease similar to multiple sclerosis by 1998, leaving her needing a wheelchair when she left the house.

Detailing the alleged neglect, Mr Cray told jurors: "The failures of care were basic.

"They did not move Julie, they did not clean her, they did not feed her properly and they did not call for medical or other help.

"The neglect you are going to be looking at was sustained over weeks and parts of it were deliberate - for example, each defendant decided that they would not call medical or any other help for Julie.

"Ultimately, the result of their neglect was that Julie died.

"She died, I'm afraid, from dreadful injuries and surrounded by filth and squalor, in the home she shared with the defendants, her own father and her own brother.

"Their neglect was bad enough to lead to an awful death.

"On the face of it, Julie could have been saved by something as simple as one phone call to any of the medical professionals who had been caring for her for years, or to neighbours who were willing to help, saying that Julie was in serious decline and that they were struggling to cope.

"The central allegation that we make is that their neglect led to Julie's death and that the neglect was so exceptionally bad that it amounted to the crime of manslaughter."

Mr Cray also addressed how Ms Burdett was found in her bungalow.

He said: "What the three paramedics discovered was horrific. The body appeared thin and frail. There were no signs of life.

"The history that emerged from the paramedics speaking to the defendants was... for around two weeks, Julie had been left in her room, wedged against the bed in a space where there was barely room to move."

The trial continues.