TWO people have been convicted of causing or allowing the death of a 19-month old girl who was tied to her bed.
Ellie May Minshull-Coyle died after she was caged and forcibly restrained inside a cot at her home in Lostock Hall, near Preston, England.
The toddler’s mother Lauren Coyle, 19, and stepfather Reece Hitchcott, 20, were found guilty on Friday of causing or allowing the death of a child, as well as child neglect.
They were found not guilty of manslaughter.
Their lodger, Connor Kirby, 20, was found not guilty of all charges.
A jury at Liverpool Crown Court heard how Ellie May’s bed at the two-bedroom flat in Preston was ‘turned into a cage’, with a mattress and sheet also covering the window.
On the night of March 22/23, 2017, blankets and ligatures were used to tie the toddler into her bed.
A duvet was then placed over her meaning that she was unable to properly regulate her body temperature.
At some point she stopped breathing and her heart stopped.
Police were called to the address on Ward Street on March 23 by paramedics who were treating Ellie May.
She was taken to the Royal Preston Hospital but sadly died a short time later.
A post mortem examination concluded the cause of death was “forcible restraint by ligatures in a facedown position complicated by hyperthermia”.
Following the verdict, Ellie May’s father John Minshull paid tribute to his ‘wonderful’ daughter.
“Ellie May was a wonderful little girl, she was so special to everyone around her,” he said.
“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.”
'Pointless, avoidable death'
Detective Chief Inspector Zoe Russo, of the Force Major Investigation Team at Lancashire Constabulary, described the case as heartbreaking.
“This case has been the most distressing that myself and the team have ever had to deal with,” she said.
“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 heartbreaking.
“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 and 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.”
Coyle and Hitchcott are due to be sentenced on November 16.