Kaylea Titford’s father admits he heard her screaming night before she died
A man accused of killing his disabled daughter by allowing her to become morbidly obese admitted he heard her screaming the night before she died.
Giving evidence in his trial at Mold crown court, Alun Titford, 45, said he did not think there was anything unusual about the screams coming from Kaylea’s downstairs bedroom in Powys, Mid Wales, on 9 October 2020.
The jury heard that shortly after 10.30pm that night, he texted 16-year-old Kaylea from his bedroom upstairs asking her to be quiet. “If you have a bad chest, stop screaming,” he wrote to her, and then: “Why u keep screeking [screeching]?”
He said Kaylea had a cold and he assumed it was “the same as always – someone was in her room she didn’t want to be there, or someone doing something she didn’t like”.
Kaylea Titford, who had spina bifida and hydrocephalus, died from complications arising from her obesity. The jury has heard that maggots were discovered under her sore-covered body when she was found in “truly horrific circumstances” weighing 146kg (22st 13lbs). Just 1.45 metres tall (4ft 8in), Kaylea had a body mass index of 70 when she died.
Titford denies manslaughter on the basis of gross negligence. His partner, care worker Sarah Lloyd-Jones, Kaylea’s mother, has already pleaded guilty to the same charge.
Yet under cross-examination on Wednesday, Titford agreed he was jointly culpable for Kaylea’s death, repeatedly blaming his own “laziness”.
Caroline Rees KC, prosecuting, said: “It’s as much your fault as it’s Sarah Lloyd-Jones’s.” Titford replied: “Yes”. The barrister then said: “You are as much to blame for Kaylea’s death as Sarah Lloyd-Jones.” Titford again replied: “Yes”.
Asked whether he did anything to help Kaylea maintain her dignity, he said no. Asked why not, he said: “I don’t know. I’m lazy.”
Kaylea’s parents had been together for 20 years and lived with Kaylea and her five siblings in a house in Powys, the jury heard.
David Elias KC, defending Titford, asked him about events in the run-up to Kaylea being found dead on 10 October 2020.
Titford said he had last gone into Kaylea’s room two weeks earlier on her 16th birthday. He said he gave her a hug and a kiss and insisted he did not notice a bad smell or bottles of urine around her bed.
The jury has heard evidence from police officers and paramedics called to Kaylea’s death, describing the worst smell they had ever encountered, and noticing numerous milk and fruit juice cartons filled with urine in her bedroom.
The jury has seen photographs showing faeces on the floor of her bathroom, as well as soiled “puppy pads”.
Titford accepted the en-suite bathroom was “a mess” and that Kaylea had not used it for 12-18 months. He said it was used instead for the family dog: “He was nasty so if people came to the house you would have to lock him away.”
He also accepted that his own room was tidier and cleaner than Kaylea’s, but denied Rees’ suggestion that hers was a “dumping ground”. He said it was cluttered “because we never throw anything away” and that there was a dirty deep fat fryer near her bed because there was no room in the kitchen.
He said he last spoke to his daughter the night before she was discovered dead, calling out to her from the kitchen next to her bedroom. Kaylea was in bed on her phone, and her aunt, Kelly, was there with her, he said.
The jury heard that Kaylea sent her last message on Facebook at 8.12pm on 9 October and that her phone was locked for the final time 10 seconds later. It was two hours after that her father sent the messages asking her to stop screaming.
Titford said he was woken up by Lloyd-Jones at about 8am the following day saying that Kaylea had died.
Titford said he had a good relationship with Kaylea when she was little but did not feel “comfortable” helping with her after she reached puberty.
Describing her as “very determined and funny”, he said she was stubborn: “If she didn’t want to do something, she wouldn’t.”
A text exchange was read between father and daughter in June 2020, when Titford told her to raise one of her legs “or you’ll lose it” – a regular instruction to the teenager to stop sores developing. She replied: “I don’t care if I lose it. Not like I can use it.”
He said she had screamed “most days” from the age of about 12. “She used to scream a lot to her brothers and sisters and to Sarah and me,” he told the court. Elias asked why she would scream, and Titford said: “If someone was standing in front of her TV or touching her phone.”
He told the jury that he did not do any cooking or food shopping and did not ever open letters in the house, leaving everything to Lloyd-Jones.
Kaylea’s weight had been an issue since she was young, he said, but got worse as she became a teenager and could help herself to food or ask her siblings to fetch her snacks.
He said he did not consider her weight to be dangerous. “I just thought she was big like the rest of the family.”
Asked by Elias if he could have done more to help Kaylea, he said: “Yeah.” Asked to elaborate, he said: “I just could have done more.” Asked if he was the “best father he could be” to Kaylea’s five siblings, Titford said: “No … I’m just not very good.”
The jury heard that Lloyd-Jones texted him in February 2020 saying: “I’ve had enough of everything. My life, the lot.”