London - A mother and her ex-boyfriend have been jailed after they left her toddler to suffocate in a horrific ‘cage bed’.
Ellie-May Minshull-Coyle, 19 months, was found dead hours after being put to bed in the ‘death trap’ in March last year.
She had been tied face-down to the mattress, the court heard.
Lauren Coyle, then 19, had struggled to cope with the youngster in the weeks leading up to her death, the jury was told.
On Saturday a judge sentenced Coyle, now 20, and her drug addict ex, Reece Hitchcott, 20, to ten years in youth custody. They were cleared of the toddler’s manslaughter, but found guilty of causing her death.
The court was told they tied Ellie to the Frozen-themed toddler bed, which had sides of a cot propped up against it, and sheets thrown over the rails to stop her seeing out.
During the trial prosecutor Christopher Tehrani QC said: "By being restrained in her bed in a face-down position, Ellie-May’s breathing would have become compromised."
Sentencing, Mr Justice Dove told the pair: "The bed you both created and used, night after night, was quite literally a death trap."
The jury at Liverpool Crown Court were shown texts between Coyle and Hitchcott which revealed they were struggling to cope.
Coyle had sent a message to her lover, saying: "She was biting me so I put her in her room. She is banging her head off the walls. I have smacked her loads too."
Hitchcott replied: "I will sort her out when I come home. I will put her in her room." Coyle said: "I literally feel like jumping in front of a train. So stressed."
The court heard Ellie-May’s father, John Minshull, had moved out of the flat in Preston, Lancashire in December 2016, after she confessed she had cheated on him with Hitchcott.
A post-mortem examination found marks consistent with her being tied by the legs and chest. Her death was caused by ‘forcible restraint by ligatures in a face-down position complicated by hyperthermia,’ the court heard.
In a statement, Mr Minshull said his heart was broken. ‘Now I can’t be a dad to her, it destroys me inside,’ he added.
John Jones QC, defending Coyle, said she had been the subject of a ‘hate campaign’ online and ‘abandoned’ by her parents during the trial. James Pickup QC, for Hitchcott, said his client had been thrown out of home at 16, partly because of his cannabis addiction, and had lived on the streets before moving in with Coyle and Ellie-May.
The couple, who denied they had tied the youngster to the bed, were also convicted of one count of child cruelty by ‘caging’ the child in her bed, and another count of child cruelty by restraining her in the bed.Daily Mail