Squalor of Sheffield autistic man's attic 'prison' revealed in picture

By Pritti Mistry
BBC News

Image source, SYP
Image caption,
Police found faeces and vomit over the floor, bedding, and dormer window of the attic room

A photo revealing the conditions inside a bedroom in which an autistic man was imprisoned by his mother and stepfather has been released.

Matthew Langley, 22, was left "close to death" after being locked in the attic room for seven months.

Lorna Hewitt, 43, and her husband Craig Hewitt were convicted of falsely imprisoning him at their Sheffield home between November 2019 and June 2020.

The National Autistic Society said the scene was "deeply disturbing".

By the time he was found on 2 June 2020, Mr Langley, who also had learning difficulties and suffered from irritable bowel syndrome, double incontinence and arthritis, weighed just six stone (39kg) and was severely dehydrated.

The photograph, which was released by police, shows piles of rubbish and soiled items in the vomit and faeces-covered room.

Image source, South Yorkshire Police
Image caption,
The couple are due to be sentenced on 18 February

The National Autistic Society said the image was "really shocking".

Tim Nicholls, head of policy, public affairs and research partnerships at the society, said: "What happened to Matthew was horrifying.

"Autistic people and families across the country will be deeply disturbed by this case and the shocking conditions shown in this picture.

"It's inexcusable, no-one should have to go through what Matthew faced."

Following a trial at Sheffield Crown Court the Hewitts, of Walkley Road, were also found guilty of causing or allowing a vulnerable adult to suffer serious physical harm.

Jurors heard Mr Langley had become so extremely malnourished and dehydrated that his "life was in the balance".

Prosecutor Nicholas Campbell QC told the court Mr Langley was in a "pitiable state" and had been left unable to walk, with bruises showing he had been "crawling on all fours" in his room.

The couple are due to be sentenced on 18 February.

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