Robert Christopher Morgan, 60, is accused of killing Dorothy Morgan, 71, who developed gangrene and died from sepsis after she was left covered in her own urine and faeces
A husband accused of his emaciated wife’s manslaughter through neglect told a jury he didn’t notice the unhygienic and filthy conditions she was living in before she died.
Robert Christopher Morgan, 60, is accused of killing Dorothy Morgan, 71, who developed gangrene and died from sepsis after she was left covered in her own urine and faeces. He is jointly accused alongside David Holyoak, 52, her son by another man, who also denies any responsibility for her death, on February 4, 2021.
Carlisle Crown Court heard how Dorothy’s cheeks were left “sunken” after she spent her final few weeks living on a settee in her family home in Whitehaven, Cumbria. Morgan previously told the jury that she was “terrified” of hospitals and had ordered him not to call doctors for medical intervention if she required it.
But he accepted under cross-examination by prosecutor Iain Simkin KC, that from early January 2021, he had “failed to take care of her basic human needs.” When he was asked yesterday why he had allowed his wife to remain in terrible condition, which left her toes gangrenous, he told the court: “I didn’t notice.”
He added that things had “got on top of him” before her passing, and later added that he “wasn’t aware” that she had been left to lie in filth. Security worker Morgan previously told the jury that he had met Dorothy in a pub in Whitehaven in 1997 and their relationship had developed “very quickly.”
After three weeks, they were living together at her home in the town in Cumbria. He said they had shared a love of reading and had more than 1,000 books in the house and they only “very rarely” had bad times as a couple. But Morgan said that retired Dorthy, who previously worked at a Kangol factory in Frizington, Cumbria, had been “terrified” of hospitals.
He said: “She made it known from day one that if ever she was ill she did not want any intervention by doctors or hospitals. She would do it her way. When I moved in, she made that clear to me that if she ever got in a position when she needed help, she would not accept it.
“She had a thing about West Cumberland Hospital, she didn’t want to go in there if she could avoid it.” He also told the jury that she had stopped seeing her GP. Morgan said that his wife had been a heavy smoker, and after her retirement she had slowed down and her alcohol consumption had gone up.
And in his police interview, he told officers that Dorthy had refused medical help before he eventually made a 999 call and she was rushed to hospital on January 29. She tragically died at West Cumberland Hospital one week later.
The pathologist Dr Armour said she weighed 29kgs, about four and a half stone, when she passed away. The pathologist said muscle wasting was clearly visible in many areas of Dorothy’s body, including on her abdomen and her face.
He said this was usually one of the last areas of the body to lose muscle mass when a person suffers emaciation – and her cheeks were sunken. Mr Simkin asked: “You’d look at her in the face and you’d know there was something wrong?” Dr Armour responded with: “Yes.”
The prosecutor then asked Dr Armour how she would characterise the level of emaciation, and he replied: “Severe.” The pathologist said there were sores on her back, her shoulder, her arms, her legs and her buttocks.
And he also found there were areas of skin loss and other areas where tissue had become “necrotic,” meaning that it had died, the jury heard. Some wounds were typical of those suffered by a person who had remained in the same position without moving. During his cross-examination, Morgan said he had not smelled any evidence of the state his wife was in.
And he again denied that he had “just left his wife to die”, and Mr Simkin’s suggestion that he had hardly anything to do with his wife. Mr Simkin told Morgan: “You are lying because you know you left her there to die, you are telling this jury whatever you can to try to get away with it. Is that right?”
Morgan replied: “No – that’s not correct.” Mr Simkin then asked Morgan about Dorthy failing to have sufficient food or drink while she was living on the settee. Morgan responded: “She had it; I don’t know if she ate it or drank it. It was certainly supplied”, but he accepted that the settee was not clean.
Mr Simkin said: “It was obvious that unless you intervened, she was going to die… You left her because you could not be bothered to do anything else.” The defendant replied: “That is vastly not true.”
The trial continues.