Kerry Warren, who lived in Newstead, Stoke-on-Trent with her sister and mother Tracey, needed help with basic chores and became distressed or aggressive if someone tried to help her against her will.
A coroner was told that her parents would give in to her wishes and allow her to follow a diet of junk food, which included chocolate, cake and potato chips.
The extreme lack of nutrients led Ms. Warren to develop a stem cell disorder, bone marrow failure, and severe anemia.
Warren had started sleeping on the couch after refusing to go upstairs and her mother was sleeping in a nearby chair.
But on January 8, 2019, Mrs Warren woke to find her daughter’s body on the floor, wrapped in a quilt.
‘I shook Kerry to try to get her to respond. But I got nothing,’ she said. She rang Kerry’s father Chris, who lived across the road, and he called 999 and began CPR.
The paramedics, who were unable to save her, then saw bruising on Ms Warren which triggered a police investigation into her death. A report was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) but no further action was taken.
The bruising was old and Ms Warren’s family said it was caused by their efforts to hold her down when she became violent.
The coroner heard she had been allocated social workers and other professional help as a child and young adult. But Detective Constable David Stubbs said: ‘There seemed to be a time when all support had stopped.’
He discovered Ms Warren’s GP de-registered her when she did not respond to letters, which let to most of her medical records being lost because they weren’t transferred to electronic files.
It was only when a concerned housing officer visited the family’s council home in 2016 that a fresh referral was made to adult social services.
DC Stubbs said: ‘The housing officer felt Mrs Warren was very loving to Kerry, but couldn’t cope. It was easier for her to give in to what Kerry wanted, instead of what she needed.’
That referral led to her being assigned a support worker. But the family did not go to any appointments and ‘disengaged’, so the support ended in March 2017, the inquest heard.
North Staffordshire senior coroner Andrew Barkley asked Ms Warren’s parents: ‘Do you agree there was help and support offered, but it upset Kerry and you couldn’t force her to accept that help?’
Mrs Warren, who has learning difficulties herself, replied: ‘Yes, it was very hard.’
She told the inquest she ‘did the best I could’, but Ms Warren would tell her mother what she wanted to eat.
‘She had toast in the morning. She had a chip bap and a cake for dinner. Then she had a pie and gravy, with some chips, for her tea,’ added Mrs Warren.
Mr Warren said: ‘Day-to-day life with Kerry was challenging. In the last few years, she started to become aggressive towards herself. Numerous times she would punch and kick herself.’
A post-mortem examination showed the probable cause of death was megaloblastic anaemia, linked to a lack of folic acid and vitamin B12.
But other causes couldn’t be excluded. Mr Barkley concluded: ‘It is more likely than not that she died of natural causes contributed to by neglect.’