IT began with a 999 call.

At 9.11am on January 25, 2021, 61-year-old Whitehaven man Robert Christopher Morgan requested an ambulance for his 71-year-old wife Dorothy.

When the call was answered, the security guard – just back from a night shift in Barrow – began his conversation with the call-handler by saying: “I’ve got a problem with my wife.”

In the minutes that followed, he strove to convey the gravity of his wife situation.

“She’s literally tried to starve herself to death over the last couple of months," he told the call-handler. "She hasn’t allowed me to get in touch with any help, professionally.”

Her breathing was laboured, and her skin had a blue tinge.

In perhaps his most telling description of his gravely ill wife, Morgan added: “She looks like something from a death camp.”

Thus began a chain of events that would reveal how over a period of months Dorothy Morgan had been failed - fatally so - by her husband and by her son by a different man, 53-year-old David Holyoak, a supermarket worker.

When Mrs Morgan arrived at Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital, her physical state was dire. Severely dehydrated and emaciated, she weighed only four and a half stone.News and Star: Dorothy Morgan was taken to A&E at West Cumberland Hospital

For weeks, she had lain on a settee in the living room of the family’s Calder Avenue home in Whitehaven. Unable or unwilling to move, she had developed numerous painful bedsores: wounds on her back, her shoulder, her arms, her legs and her buttocks, some of them so deep that the bone was exposed.

Quite literally, she was covered in her own 'filth', urine and faeces – probably the reason she developed sepsis and gangrene in her toes.

According to prosecuting KC Iain Simkin, Dorothy Morgan’s physical state when she was finally admitted to hospital was so dire that her death had become an inevitability.

She died on February 4, 2021.

Over a trial that lasted four weeks, Carlisle Crown Court heard detailed accounts of the last days of Dorothy Morgan – days that must have been filled with pain and discomfort.

Her husband and son denied manslaughter through “gross negligence,” telling the jury that Mrs Morgan steadfastly refused to accept help.News and Star: Robert Morgan denies manslaughter

Opening the case to the jury, Mr Simkin said: "The facts of this case are shocking, and the prosecution say that Dorothy Morgan was simply left to die by these two men….

"The prosecution’s case is that these two men, her husband and her son, left her to die in her own filth.”

The key evidence in most serious trials often involves the defendants giving their account, telling the jury why should whey they should not be convicted. For a prosecutor, however, that decision offers the opportunity to challenge defendants.

In his cross examination, Mr Simkin bluntly accused Robert Morgan of failing to take care of his wife’s “basic human needs.” Morgan accepted this.

But when asked why he did nothing about the urine and faeces his wife had lain in on the settee, Morgan said: “I didn’t notice.” Nor did he notice his wife’s toes were gangrenous, he said, adding that “things got on top of him.”

“You simply left her there to die,” said Mr Simkin. “No," replied Morgan.

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?”

News and Star: Calder Avenue, WhitehavenCalder Avenue, Whitehaven (Image: Google Maps)

Again, Morgan refuted this. Mr Simkin asked Morgan about Mrs Morgan failing to have sufficient food or drink while she was living on the settee. Morgan said: “She had it; I don’t know if she ate it or drank it. It was certainly supplied.”

“It was obvious,” said Mr Simkin, “that unless you intervened, she was going to die.”

For both Robert Morgan and David Holyoak, the backbone of their defence was their evidence that Dorothy Morgan had steadfastly and repeatedly refused to accept medical help; and that that had a deep aversion to Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital.

Both men also summed up Dorothy Morgan as “strong-willed” and “strong-minded.” A woman who, having made a decision, would always stick to it.

David Holyoak told the jury: “She was very stubborn about things.”News and Star: David Holyoak

Asked to describe his own personality, he replied: “Not very strong-minded – lacking in self-confidence. It’s been commented on by other people that I need to be more self-confident.”

Some of the most compelling evidence in the trial came from Home Office pathologist Dr Alison Armour. Methodical, calm, and forensic, she carefully set out her findings.

At the time of her death, Mrs Morgan, a woman who was 5ft 1½in tall, weighed 29 kilograms – about four and a half stone. Her muscle wasting was “clearly visible” across her body, including on her face.

Her cheeks were “hollowed out,” said Dr Armour.

“Would it have been obvious that she was in a very poorly condition?” asked Mr Simkin. The pathologist replied: “In my opinion, yes." Mr Simkin also quizzed Dr Armour about the pressure sores found on Mrs Morgan’s body.

They were on her back, her shoulder, her arms, her legs and her buttocks.

Also found were areas of skin loss and other areas where tissue had become “necrotic,” meaning that it had died, the jury heard.

In earlier evidence, Dr Armour confirmed that the history she was given for Mrs Morgan included that she had been sitting in the living room of her home in front of a TV that did not work.

She was out of reach of the telephone.

When she arrived at hospital, medical investigations confirmed that Mrs Morgan, a heavy smoker, had lung cancer but she was so weakened and unwell that doctors concluded she could have withstood treatment.

Thus, the jury were faced with this question: Was the defendants’ evidence about Dorothy Morgan’s resistance to medical intervention accurate?

And if it was, at what point did their duty of care to her override her wishes so that she should not be given life-saving medical help? Was their inaction as Dorothy Morgan "wasted away" on the settee criminally negligent?

After listening to weeks of disturbing evidence, the jury delivered their verdicts, declaring both men guilty.

As he waited in the corridor of Carlisle Crown Court, David Holyoak passed the time by reading crime novels. He probably never expected to find himself at the heart of a manslaughter investigation - a real life crime with tragic consequences.

As she concluded the case, Her Honour Judge Goddard thanked the jury for their service on a case that had presented them with some "difficult weeks" - weeks that examined in disturbing detail the last grim weeks of Dorothy Morgan.

Both defendants sat silently in the dock, their emotions impossible to fathom. The judge warned them both they face custodial sentences.

Read more: Dorothy Morgan manslaughter was 'one of the worst' - senior prosecutor