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Man avoids jail after leaving dead aunt in bed for months

John MacLeod was handed a Community Payback Order after her body was found in Edinburgh.

Police: The body was discovered in Madeira Street, Edinburgh
Police: The body was discovered in Madeira Street, Edinburgh Google

A man who took his 75-year old aunt back to her home in Edinburgh to die and then concealed her body for almost nine months has been placed under supervision.

John MacLeod, who looked after Mina MacLeod for 27 years, was handed an 18-months Community Payback Order.

He was also ordered to carry out 200 hours community service

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard McLeod is now caring for his 78-year old mother, Sarah MacLeod.

In May he pleaded guilty to concealing the body of his aunt in a house in Edinburgh, between December 16, 2015, and August 10, 2016 and failing to inform the authorities of her death so they were unable to ascertain the cause of death.

He also admitted pretending to his mother, Sarah, and police officers that his aunt was alive in the house in Madeira Street with intent to defeat the ends of justice.

And he pleaded guilty and to failing to inform the Department of Work and Pensions of her death and receiving Income Support, Carers Allowance and Disability Living Allowance Care and Mobility component.

MacLeod had lived with his aunt 1988 to 2010 and then moved to his house in Muirside Avenue, Kirkintilloch, leaving the flat in Edinburgh unoccupied.

In 2015, he noticed that his aunt was unwell, but it did not seem serious and that medical attention was not necessary.

But when her breathing became shallow, he decided she would like to die in her own bedroom, so he took her back to Madeira Street and put her to bed.

He sat next to her until she passed away then pulled bedclothes over her body and left.

The body was found by a neighbour, who had been given a key by MacLeod to allow him to carry out maintenance work.

The man saw what looked like a body under the covers on a bed, pulled back a sheet, saw the mummified body of Ms MacLeod and phoned the police.

'In the circumstances I do not consider it in the public interest to impose a sentence of imprisonment. However, the charges are sufficiently serious for a direct alternative to custody.'
Sheriff Weir

Defence solicitor, Jonathan Campbell, had told the court that his client had a number of serious health difficulties, but had given a significant part of his own life to care for his aunt.

He now had to live with the consequences for the rest of his life.

MacLeod, he said, had received £6,596 in benefits for the care of his aunt after she had died.

He was now caring for his 78-year old mother.

Sheriff Weir told MacLeod that as his aunt's health deteriorated he had concluded she was going to die and took her home.

The court heard she died on December 16.

Sheriff Weir said: "Your decision not to get medical help was clearly wrong".

The court heard it was not been part of the agreed narrative that MacLeod's decision to take his aunt back to Edinburgh was motivated by financial greed.

The Sheriff said he accepted MacLeod had looked after his aunt for 27 years and was now caring for his mother.

He added: "In the circumstances I do not consider it in the public interest to impose a sentence of imprisonment.

"However, the charges are sufficiently serious for a direct alternative to custody."

That alternative was the 18-months Community Payback Order under supervision and the 300 hours of unpaid work.

Sheriff Weir added that in the "unique circumstances" there would be a review in three months time.

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