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She can rot in hell - anger over lenient sentence.

A daughter who claimed her dead mother's pension while the decomposing body lay in the family home was involved in angry scenes outside court yesterday.

Mary Widdows had to be escorted into Warley Magistrates' Court, Oldbury, after her cousin Mrs Kathy Noy screamed at her: "I hope you rot in hell."

Widdows was punched and slapped before court security staff bundled her into the building.

She was convicted last month on three counts of obtaining property by deception and yesterday she was ordered to do 120 hours community service.

She was also ordered to pay pounds 400 costs and pounds 330 compensation.

The sentence was branded as too lenient by outraged family and friends who had demanded a jail term.

The decaying corpse of Widdows' mother, Mrs Mary Stansbie, lay in dirty sheets in a filthy room for up to three weeks, the court was told.

Widdows, who shared her mother's home in Hurst Road, Smethwick, denied knowing the 78-year-old Alzheimer's sufferer was dead when she cashed three pension dockets in December, 1997.

After the hearing, Mrs Noy, aged 51, from Rochester, Kent, said: "She treated her mother like a dog. What she did was disgusting. I hope she rots in hell.

"The sentence is a disgrace. I am very angry.

"She tried to pretend she had no family, but there are lots of us, we are a very big family and we are all absolutely disgusted by what she has done. She is evil."

The court heard medical evidence that Mrs Stansbie had been dead for at least three weeks and probably longer. Her corpse had become mummified.

The corpse was discovered by district nurses Maureen Capewell and Geraldine Evans, who had visited Mrs Stansbie about once a month since the death of her husband Ernie.

Mrs Capewell told the court they found Mrs Stansbie lying in a "filthy" bed.

She said: "It was shocking. The words `help me' and `no help' had been written on the walls.

"She had obviously been dead a long time. She was partly decomposed."

Widdows said in court she had spoken to her mother ten days before the body was found and had seen her walking about.

She maintained she had not gone into her mother's bedroom because Mrs Stansbie was fiercely independent and wanted her privacy respected.

However, her daughter Kathy Widdows, aged 18, said there was nothing to stop anyone going into her grandmother's room and if she wished to be alone she would simply ask them to leave.

Widdows, who wept as she gave evidence, said she had "loved her mother very much".

In mitigation, Mr Ranjit Kauldhar said his client accepted she should have made a "better effort" to care for her mother and should have sought outside help.

A charge of failing to report the death against Widdows was formally dismissed by magistrates after the court was told an inquest last week had made the charge invalid in law.
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Author:Swingler, Peter
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 17, 1999
Words:491
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