Mum who slowly starved her daughter to death in squalid bedroom jailed for nine years

24 February 2022, 15:59

Elaine Clarke, 49, starved her daughter to death
Elaine Clarke, 49, starved her daughter to death. Picture: Supplied

By Stephen Rigley

A mother who starved her Down's Syndrome daughter to death in a squalid bedroom surrounded by takeaway boxes and soiled nappies has been jailed for more than nine years.

Elaine Clarke, 49, "bought herself handbags and shoes" while daughter Debbie Leitch, 24, wasted away in a dark, faeces-covered room which "smelled of death".

A post-mortem revealed the 24-year-old's cause of death was her starvation and neglect. She also had an extensive scabies skin infection.

She was suffering to such an extent that police were initially unable to identify her sex when they found her body when she was discovered on August 29, 2019 - weighing just 3st 10lb. 

Medics believe she died a full 36 hours before her mum Elaine Clarke called for paramedics.

Clarke had received weekly benefit payments of £215 to care for her daughter, but she pleaded guilty to gross negligence manslaughter in December - having initially denied the offence. 

She was today sentenced to nine years and seven months in prison after admitting to gross negligent manslaughter at Preston Crown Court.

The court was told how Ms Leitch's condition had "deteriorated dramatically" in the months leading up to her death.

Mrs Justice Yip told the mother: "Nothing was done to halt her decline. Debbie was starved, her scabies was allowed to run out of control, she became more and more weakened until she died.'In her last days, she was denied even the most basic care and dignity."

"Anyone entering her room and seeing her towards the end of her life could have been left with no doubt that her life was in real danger.

"One way or another, you ignored that risk and left Debbie to die in her squalid room."