Vile mum who starved daughter Debbie Leitch to death refuses to take part in inquest

Debbie Leitch died after beign severely neglected by her mum Elaine Clarke
Debbie Leitch died after beign severely neglected by her mum Elaine Clarke -Credit:Archive

A mum who was jailed for allowing her disabled daughter to starve has refused to take part in an inquest into her death.

Debbie Leitch, who had Down's Syndrome, was "severely emaciated and covered in scabs" when she died at her home in Blackpool. The 24-year-old weighed just 3st 10lbs and was covered in such a severe scabies infection that paramedics were unable to recognise her as female when she was found dead on August 29, 2019, with her clothes fused to her skin.

In 2022, Debbie's mum Elaine Clarke was sentenced to nine years and seven months after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of her daughter. She will be eligible for parole in 2028.


At the time, Debbie's dad Tom Leitch, who lives in East Sussex, criticised the length of Clarke's sentence and said "is that all my daughter's life was worth?" He had split with Clarke in 1997 and she was awarded custody of their three daughters.

Debbie Leitch. See SWNS story SWLEstarved. A mother accused of starving her own disabled daughter to death has pleaded guilty to her unlawful killing. Elaine Clarke, 49, admitted killing her daughter Debbie Leitch, 24, who had Down's Syndrome and was died from severe emaciation and neglect. A post-morterm examination found she also had an extensive scabies skin infection. Debbie's emaciated body was discovered inside a house in Blackpool, Lancs., by emergency services on August 29, 2019.
Debbie Leitch died aged 24 -Credit:SWNS

A pre-inquest review, held today at Blackpool Town Hall, heard that Mr Leitch had been due to attend but he has recently died and will therefore never get the answers he fought for. Senior Coroner Alan Wilson said: "Sadly the court was contacted a few days ago with confirmation that Thomas Leitch, Debbie's father, has recently passed away."

Mr Wilson also revealed that Debbie's disgraced mum will not be participating in the inquest. "The court has been in contact with her at an earlier stage and the prison governor has reported to the court that Miss Clarke will not seek to play a part in the inquest," the coroner said.

"If that situation changes we will be contacted but as of today we have not been contacted."

In 2014, Clarke moved her family to Leeds and in 2016 they moved again to Blackpool. Today's review heard that Debbie wasn't known to social services after her move from Leeds to Blackpool. This was said to be a "surprise" given her disability.

A post mortem was carried out by Home Office pathologist Dr Alison Armour. She concluded that Debbie had died of starvation and neglect.

At Clarke's sentencing hearing family members 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.

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.

A final inquest into Debbie's death is due to take place on October 14 and is expected to last five days. Local authorities including Blackpool Council, East Sussex Council and Leeds Council will be represented and give evidence as well as the Waterloo Medical Centre in Blackpool where Debbie was registered.