An American couple who continued to live their daily life while their seven-year-old son lay dead in their Spanish apartment, had "lost their sense of reality", a court heard. The badly decomposed body of Caleb Hopkins was found beneath several blankets in the rented family apartment in Girona.
His parents, Bruce and Schrell Hopkins, aged 39 and 38, claimed their son did not wake up one morning, but they could not accept he was dead.
Police visited the apartment, where the couple lived with their three children, following a tip-off from the owner, who had been to the property to collect unpaid rent. The father told the judge they had not taken the boy, who suffered with asthma, to hospital as they did not believe in conventional medicine. They had previously treated his asthma with inhalers and homeopathic medicine.
Case prosecutor Enrique Barata told reporters: "The father explained he tried to give his son resuscitating manoeuvres, cardiac massage and mouth-to-mouth breathing. But the child was unresponsive. They would live normal home life around the dead body," he explained. "They couldn't accept that the child was dead."
While medical tests demonstrated that the Christian couple, who moved to Girona from Missouri in 2014, were not mentally ill, Mr Barata suggested that the parents had "lost their sense of reality" following the death of their son.
Christian Salvador, the family's defence lawyer, said the parents were now coming to terms with the loss of their son. "More than a sentiment of guilt their feeling is of grief," he said. "This is about two parents who have just realised their son is dead."
While the exact cause and time of Caleb's death is yet to be established, toxicology tests have been conducted to see if the boy had been given any drug or poison, Sky News reports. If the child was dead when found by his parents, there may not be a case for negligent homicide, prosecutors said.
Mr and Mrs Hopkins have been provisionally released after questioning by a judge, but their passports have been retained by the court. The couple's two other children, a boy aged 12 and a girl of 14, have been taken into regional government care.