A NORTH East man who left his disabled sister to die in their freezing and filthy home has been jailed.
John Barrass was meant to be caring for his sister Cynthia, who suffered diabetes and learning difficulties.
But after she suffered a stroke or fall, Barrass, 55, left her to rot on the floor of her dirty and ice-cold room.
Newcastle Crown Court heard how one emergency care worker was moved to tears by Cynthia’s plight after Barrass, of Central Avenue, North Shields, eventually called 999.
Cynthia, 58, was left to ebb away in her own excrement, wearing only a thin nightdress as she lay on the floor for more than two weeks.
Shocked paramedics – working by torchlight and using face masks to combat the overpowering smell inside the house – found Cynthia barely conscious and infected with sores, lice, and gangrene. She was suffering such severe hypothermia that she died just hours later in intensive care.
Barrass was given a prison sentence of two years and eight months after he admitted manslaughter.
Judge John Milford said there had been “no warmth” in the relationship and added: “Cynthia was found in conditions of the utmost squalor.
“One recoils from the photographs of the scene and emergency services had to deal with the reality of the situation, which was distressing in the extreme.
“Cynthia had fallen about 14 days previously. You had provided food to her and so must have entered her room every day but that was the only care you gave her save for repositioning her TV set.”
Judge Milford said he accepted Barrass’s own past had made a “significant impact” on his culpability.
But he told him: “The court must not confine itself just to the fact of the death but also take into account the suffering of the deceased leading to her death.
“For two weeks she lay in her own excrement in very cold conditions before finally lapsing into unconsciousness.”
A ‘serious case review’ involving police and care agencies was launched after Cynthia was found on February 9.
Barrass seemed a dedicated carer to his friends, the court heard, but none of them were ever invited to his home or realised the scenes that lay hidden behind the front door.
Robert Smith QC, defending, said the explanation for Barrass’ behaviour lay in a “grossly dysfunctional” family background. Det Chief Insp Steve Binks, who led the investigation, said: “The sentence handed out today shows the depth of the failing by the person she was closest to and should have been able to rely on.”