Ellie-May Minshull Coyle: Toddler dies after being tied up and forced to sleep face down inside cage by mother and stepfather
Ellie-May Minshull Coyle died in March last year after her mother and stepfather made her sleep in horrific conditions at their home.
A trial at the Liverpool Crown Court heard some of the horrifying details in the death of 19-month-old infant Ellie-May Minshull Coyle, including how the toddler was forced to sleep face down in a 'monstrous cage' bed. The culprits, 19-year-old Lauren Coyle (Ellie's mother), 20-year-old stepfather Reece Hitchcott, and their 20-year-old lodger Connor Kirby, have all pled not guilty to their manslaughter charge.
According to the Daily Mail, Ellie-May passed away on March 23 last year just a day after the mother had taken her out to a local job center where she looked 'mischievous and full of life.' Around 7:30 p.m. the previous night, Hitchcott and Kirby, put the child to bed. However, this was not a run-of-the-mill bed; it had been specially modified to ensure the toddler was exposed to as little as possible to 'help her settle into a sleep routine.'
A jury of six men and six women was told how Ellie-May was tied to the mattress of her bed with tight ligatures across her chest and legs, and a duvet placed over her. Her bed had also been pushed up against a wall, and the open sides had been enclosed by the slatted sides of a cot lashed together with ligatures and tied to the bed frame. Furthermore, the court heard how the sheets and bedding were placed over the sides of this 'monstrous cage' to prevent her from seeing anything on the outside, with a mattress and sheet covering the window as well.
Despite the horrific conditions, the toddler would sleep well until midnight before waking up and becoming fussy for the rest of that fateful night. This reportedly prompted Coyle to send a Snapchat message to a friend saying, "This child is pissing me off [sic] tonight." Then, at 6 a.m. in the morning, she texted the child's father, Sean Coyle, to tell him that Ellie-May was still crying but that she had left her to cry for two hours.
The father would eventually make it over to the house at 9 a.m., immediately realizing that there was a 'terrible problem' and that his daughter was not breathing. He called emergency services for help, though despite the best efforts of doctors, she was pronounced dead at 10:47 a.m the same morning.
The Daily Mail quoted the statements of Christopher Tehrani QC, who was prosecuting the case at the Liverpool Crown Court. "It is the prosecution's case Ellie-May was caged and forcibly restrained in her bed by those who had care of her," he said. "This would have caused Ellie-May immense suffering, distress, and upset."
"By being restrained in bed in face-down position, the prosecution said Ellie-May's breathing would have become compromised," he continued. "She would not have been able to move off her front due to being restrained to allow her to resume breathing properly. The prosecution's case is that Ellie-May's death was unnecessary, pointless, and wholly avoidable."
His statements were backed up by a postmortem examination that had been carried out by Dr. Alison Armour, a home office consultant forensic pathologist. He had concluded that Ellie-May's death was caused by "forcible restraint by ligatures in a face-down position complicated by hyperthermia."
The trio responsible has all pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, as well one count of causing or allowing the death of a child, one count of child cruelty by 'caging' the child in her bed, and another count of child cruelty by restraining her in her bed.