The parents of Ellie-May Minshull-Coyle have been jailed for 10 years each after the court heard harrowing details of the toddler’s final days.Advertisement
Ellie-May, 19 months, died on March 23 at her home in Ward Street, after being tied up with a duvet and caged in her cot.
Ellie’s mother Lauren Coyle, 19, and Reece Hitchcott, Coyle’s boyfriend at the time of Ellie’s death, were found guilty of causing or allowing her death and cruelty at Liverpool Crown Court.
Neither displayed any emotion as the judge outlined the suffering their little girl went through at their hands.
Read more: Latest updates as Ellie-May Minshull-Coyle pair sentenced
Mr Justice Dove said: “Ellie-May was 19 months old, a vulnerable child. She was dependant on you both for everything she needed in her life and put her trust in you to care for her and nurture her at a particularly vulnerable time in her life.
“Those who heard the evidence in this trial will have been rightly shocked by the treatment she received.”
The court heard Ellie-May was a happy toddler and had been well when she returned to the flat with her grandfather on March 22.
But overnight she was not sleeping.
The pair had been offered advice from parents and the heath visitor to help her settle but Coyle and Hitchcott ignored the advice and instead built the cage from the sides of her cot bed, and shrouded it in sheets and blankets. Ellie-May was restrained inside the cage.
Mr Justice Dove said: “You both could have been in no doubt that this cage was wrong.
“Ellie-May’s grandmother had told you to take it down as it was dangerous but neither of you did anything to remove it.”
The judge said the evidence showed Ellie-May had been put to bed inside the cage for some weeks “in a serious act of child cruelty” but when they decided the cage was not enough, tied ligatures around the tot’s ankles.
“Given the clear and obvious risks involved, you knew that if Ellie-May was restrained in her bed by one of you, that carried with it a serious and substantial risk.
“You took that risk for your own selfish reasons.
“It was an act of cruelty that was the complete polar opposite of what Ellie-May was entitled to.
“The bed you created and used night after night was, quite literally, a death trap.”
Coyle and Hitchcott were each convicted of causing or allowing Ellie-May’s death along with two counts of child cruelty.
The judge sentenced them to 10 years each with a further four years to run concurrently for the cruelty offences.