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Jordan Burling, 18, weighed less than 6st (38 kilograms) and his appearance was likened to a concentration camp victim as he succumbed to malnutrition over a six-month period.
There was no reason for the vulnerable but healthy young man to starve to death apart from sheer neglect by a family said to suffer from mental health disorders. They apparently loved Jordan and the house in Leeds was stocked with food but no one contacted a doctor as he deteriorated. By the time his mother Dawn Cranston, 45, finally called 999 in June 2016 he was confined to a bed on the living room floor, covered in deep bedsores and had even been put in nappies.
A police search also found the remains of Jordan’s baby brother, hidden in a rucksack in a cupboard for 14 years. The case raises serious questions about how the dysfunctional family were allowed to drop off the authorities’ radar. Jordan’s sister Abigail Burling, 25, was cleared of his manslaughter by jurors but convicted of causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable person. She will be sentenced along with mother Dawn and grandmother Denise Cranston, 70, at Leeds Crown Court on Thursday.
Dawn had earlier pleaded guilty to concealing the death of a baby, who she said was stillborn at home. Alarm bells first rang when ‘dirty’ Jordan started primary school aged four without being toilet trained. Numerous appointments were made by worried social services, but all were ignored by his mother and father Steven Burling. Dawn – now a single mother – decided to home-school Jordan from the age of 12 when he was bullied in class.
However, with no legal obligation to carry out checks, the education authority lost track of him. The last time Jordan saw a doctor was in 2010. An independent review of the different agencies’ involvement, commissioned by the local authority, is being carried out. Over around six months until his death, Jordan lost weight dramatically without suffering any illness to cause it, living off a daily diet of five supermarket milkshakes.
Nicholas Lumley QC, prosecuting, said during the trial that Jordan had been ‘left to rot’ and compared his body to what was seen in Second World War concentration camps. However, police found no evidence of malicious intent.
On June 30, 2016, the day Jordan died, a police officer concluded the whole family had a ‘mental health issue’ due to their lack of emotion and odd comments.
That day Dawn, is said by her defence psychiatrist to have a type of ‘dissociative disorder’, expressed concern about getting a refund on a £7 walking frame she had recently bought for him.