A man and woman have been found guilty of causing or allowing the death of Lostock Hall toddler Ellie-May Minshull-Coyle.Advertisement
Ellie-May died at the flat she shared with her mum and partner in Ward Street on March 23 2017 at just 19-months-old.
Lauren Coyle, 19, and Reece Hitchcott, 20, denied cruelty and causing Ellie-May’s death after Liverpool Crown Court heard the child was bound with blankets and forced to sleep in an upturned cot, before she died.
Christopher Tehrani QC, prosecuting, told the court: “Ellie-May’s death was unnecessary, pointless and wholly avoidable.”
The day before she died, Ellie-May had been “full of life” but was struggling with her sleep.
At around midnight she was put in an extremely unsafe sleeping position, with her ankles bound and covered with a duvet.
The following morning Coyle sent a message to her father Sean Coyle, telling him “She’s really taking the Mick now.”
Sean Coyle went to check on his daughter and granddaughter at around 9.30am and discovered Hitchcott crouching over the cot.
Ellie-May was unresponsive and clammy and emergency services were called.
The toddler was taken to Royal Preston Hospital but was pronounced dead at 10.27am. In Ellie-May’s bedroom, offices discovered the cot had been turned upside down and blankets draped over to stop the toddler from seeing out.
A mattress had been placed over the bedroom window.
Coyle later told officers her partner had started binding the youngster to help her settle into a sleeping routine in January 2017.
A Home Office post mortem examination carried out by Alison Arrmer noted Ellie-May had wrist and ankle injuries consistent with being tied and restrained by ligatures attaching her to the caged structure that she was placed in.
The doctor told the court Ellie-May’s injuries show that she had been forcibly tied to the bed on more than one occasion.
Coyle, of Collins Road, Bamber Bridge and Hitchcott, of The Fieldings, Fulwood, were cleared of manslaughter but will be sentenced for cruelty and causing or allowing Ellie-May’s death at a date to be confirmed.
Connor Kirby, 20, of Octavia Court, Huyton, Liverpool, was found not guilty of all of the charges.
Detective Chief Inspector Zoe Russo, of the Force Major Investigation Team, said: “This case has been the most distressing that myself and the team have ever had to deal with. To think of the suffering that this little girl was put through by those people that should have loved, cared for and protected her is heart-breaking. This was an entirely unnecessary, pointless and avoidable death of a child.
“I would like to thank Ellie-May’s father and grandparents for the dignity with which they have conducted themselves throughout this investigation & trial. I hope this verdict means that they feel some level of justice for the death of Ellie May has been achieved and our thoughts remain with them.”
Ellie May’s father John Minshull said: “Ellie May was a wonderful little girl, she was so special to everyone around her. She was always happy and the best daughter anyone could ask for.
“The fact that she was taken away from us broke our hearts because she was loved and she will be missed deeply. She is always in our minds every single day”.