Tragedy of how vulnerable Blackpool woman, 24, died in maggot infested room to be laid bare

The circumstances surrounding the harrowing death of a vulnerable Blackpool woman, who starved to death in a maggot infested room, will be laid bare this week.

Debbie Leitch, weighed less than four stone when she was found in her bedroom in Garden Terrace, on August 29, 2018. She was wearing soiled pyjamas and was covered in scabies, surrounded by dirty nappies and maggots.

On February 24, 2022, the 24-year-old's mother, Elaine Clarke, was jailed for nine years and seven months she pleaded guilty to gross negligence manslaughter. Debbie had Downs Syndrome and relied on her mother for care.


Preston Crown Court heard statements from family members who described Debbie as a happy young woman who enjoyed horses and dancing. But they said they were haunted by hearing Debbie crying for her mother as she was neglected during her time in Blackpool, before she died.

A review, carried out by Blackpool Safeguarding Adults Board in 2023, found Debbie had been 'neglected from birth' although authorities were not always aware of the family's circumstances, as they had moved from East Sussex to Leeds and then to Blackpool.

It said information about Debbie's care needs was not passed from Leeds to Blackpool when the family moved in 2016, and opportunities for intervention were missed such as when Debbie's skin condition was identified.

An inquest into Debbie's death will be held at Blackpool Coroners Court on Wednesday May 8.