Man jailed for leaving sister to die in squalor

A BROTHER who left his sister to rot in squalor in their North Tyneside home has been jailed for manslaughter.

John Barrass, 55, had been the sole carer for his sister Cynthia at their home in Central Avenue in North Shields since their mother died in 2004.

However, he let her spend the last two weeks of her life lying on the wooden floor of her bedroom in her own urine and faeces, as well as being covered in sores, before he finally called an ambulance for her.

It was too late for the 58-year-old by then, though, as she died eight hours after being admitted to hospital last February, Newcastle Crown Court heard on Tuesday.

Barrass was back in court for sentencing, having already pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

John Elvidge, prosecuting, told the court that when paramedics found Miss Barrass at her home she had been lying there for two weeks after having a fall.

He said: “At the time of her death, the home was unfit for a human.

“Rubbish was piled high inside the premises, the bathroom was insanitary, and he gave her a bucket to use for a toilet.”

The house had no central heating and was lit only by a candle bulb.

When paramedics arrived, they saw Miss Barrass lying on the floor in only a nightie with soiled toilet roll around her.

Her toes were black, her feet were swollen and she had numerous sores to her body.

The smell in the house was so bad that emergency workers had to wear masks when they entered, and the floor and bannister were slippery with excrement, the court heard.

One emergency care worker was so distressed, she burst into tears.

When Miss Barrass, 58, arrived at hospital she was given a special blanket to help warm her up as she was 10C below the normal body temperature.

She was covered in lice and was scratching all the time.

While in the hospital she was referred to the Intensive Care Unit after suffering a number of cardiac arrests, and died in the early hours on February 10.

When the defendant was shown pictures of her body he said that he did not know she was in that state and unaware that she was lying in her own urine and faeces.

Defending Barrass, Robert Smith anyone would view with astonishment the circumstances in which these two people lived.

He said: “Cynthia Barass had mild learning difficulties, but her personality was such that after the death of her mother she developed a weight problem and she put 20 stone on in weight.

“She was lazy, inactive and she herself declined help from her doctor.

“Everything she needed was provided by him (the defendant) and he provided her with food.

“He angled the TV set so that she could watch it from the floor and would bring coffee and toast to her and would eat it.”

The court heard that Barrass, who had earlier pleaded guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence, had been brought up in an abnormal environment, and had a complete lack of comprehension of the conditions that he was living.

In sentencing him to two years and eight months in prison, Judge John Milford said the house was utterly squalid and it had to be seen to be believed.

He said: “She had fallen about 14 days before, probably having had a stroke, since then she had lay on the floor of her bedroom.

“You provided food to her so must have entered her room every day.”

He added: “Your ability to respond to your sisters obvious needs as a normal person would have done was impaired.”