A woman who left the corpse of her mother unburied at their Wirral home for up to six months has been jailed.
The body of Olive Maddock, 95, was left rotting in a bedroom by her daughter Hazel Maddock, who was claiming her benefits.
Hazel Maddock, 61, pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to unlawful prevention of burial and benefit fraud. She was given an 11-month jail term.
Her daughter Jasmine Maddock, 35, received a suspended sentence.
Olive Maddock’s remains were found at the home she formerly shared with the pair on Saltburn Road in Wallasey.
Jasmine Maddock, an artist, who admitted leaving a corpse unburied, was given a 26-week prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid community service.
The court was told that Hazel Maddock fraudulently obtained one payment of her dead mother’s state pension of £176.92 and a single payment of pension credit of £34.44.
Sentencing them, Judge Gerald Clifton said the pair had entered into a “conspiracy of silence”.
“Giving burial is one the most important of those acts of honour,” he said, adding that their crimes were “particularly despicable”.
The women were arrested in August 2010 after a Pc visited the house following a report by a suspicious neighbour.
Anya Horwood, prosecuting, said the officer was struck by an “appalling smell” as soon as he stepped in the house and that it was infested with mice and swarms of flies.
More officers were called and they eventually crowbarred open the door of the bedroom and found Olive Maddock’s body.
When arrested, Hazel Maddock told police: “I’m no expert I didn’t know if she was dead … I went in the room and she grabbed my leg and that really freaked me out so I didn’t go back in.”
The court heard that Jasmine Maddock told a doctor following her arrest that her grandmother had fallen out of bed three weeks earlier and that her mother had said the death should not be reported until the pension was secured.
‘Buried their heads’
She told police that she “lived in fear” of both her mother and grandmother and that she had spent 35 years sharing a bedroom with her mother, in which she would wash and cook.
A post mortem report of Olive Maddock’s body which was read out in court revealed that it was “skeletonised” and that it was impossible to identify internal organs.
Sarah Phelan, defending Hazel Maddock, said the defendants’ lived in a family home “unimaginable to the normal citizen”.
“The day-to-day life can only be viewed with horror,” she said.
Miss Phelan said they were forced to exist in an environment that in many respects was “uninhabitable” because Olive Maddock senior refused to allow any changes to be made to the home and refused help from outside.
When she died, they “buried their heads in the sand”, she said.