Ellie-May death trial: Guilty mum posted 'tribute' pictures of little girl online

When Lauren Coyle posted photographic tributes to her 19-month-old daughter Ellie-May online, parents across the county empathised with her tragic loss.

Friday, 2nd November 2018, 12:03 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd November 2018, 3:18 pm
Lauren Coyle has been found guilty of three charges relating to the death of her daughter Ellie-May

On the surface it was the heartbreaking reaction of a grieving young mum wanting to share pictures of her "beautiful little girl".

Local people were so moved that they even set up a crowdfunding pages to raise money for the tragic family.

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Lauren Coyle has been found guilty of three charges relating to the death of her daughter Ellie-May

One page set up proclaimed: "Ellie's mum Lauren says she was such a happy and healthy little girl walking and talking and filling their hearts with joy.

"On March 23rd 2017 Lauren went to check on Ellie. Lauren found Ellie unresponsive her eyes rolled back and sick round her mouth. Ellie sadly passed away that day. "

But Ellie's tragic death was not as clear cut as the web page - now taken down - claimed.

Reece Hitchcott has been found guilty of three charges relating to toddler Ellie-May's death

For missing from the seemingly heartfelt tributes was the fact she had been shackled to the mattress of her bed with tight ligatures across her chest and legs and a duvet placed over her.

Her bed had been pushed against a wall and the open sides enclosed by the slatted sides of a cot lashed together with ligatures and electrical flex and tied to the bed frame.

Sheets and bedding were placed over the sides to prevent her seeing outside, no lights were working inside her bedroom and a mattress and sheet were also covering the window, the court was told.

Ellie-May Minshull-Coyle died at her home in Lostock Hall

Her ankles were bound together and there were marks on the child's wrists and ankles, suggesting she had been tied to the "cage".

But the brutal truth did not deter Coyle from playing the part of the grieving mother.

On the funeral director's website she penned her own tribute, writing: "Rest in peace my beautiful little girl! Taken from us all far too soon! Mummy and your daddy love you millions! I'm missing you more than anything! My angel! Until we meet again Sleep tight my angel!"

Coyle, 19, of Collins Road, Bamber Bridge, has today been found guilty of causing or allowing the death of her daughter, along with two child cruelty charges. Her ex boyfriend Reece Hitchcott, 20, of The Fieldings, Fulwood, Preston, has been found guilty of the same charges, although the two were cleared of manslaughter charges.

Their lodger Connor Kirby, 20, of Octavia Court, Huyton, Liverpool has been cleared of all charges.

Ward Street in Lostock Hall is a mixture of sheltered accommodation and terraced homes - some of which have been converted into flats.

When news of the tragedy first broke earlier this year, it touched worshippers at the neighbouring Calvary Christian Fellowship.

One volunteer, who did not wish to be named, said: "When we first heard about what had happened, our community said prayers for the baby and her family.

"Despite living so close we aren't aware they ever came to the group."

And across the road, workers at a garage have been particularly affected by the tragedy as Ellie May's paternal grandfather, Lee Minshull, reportedly works for an associated firm, Lunar Caravans.

Worker Robert Barnes said: " All the workers at Lunar have stood with him - they even wore T-shirts to work bearing her face. It has touched all of us, more so the people who work closely with him on the production side.

"We all feel for him.I have a four-year-old and am about to become a father again - you can't imagine what they are going through.

"I have also seen tribute posts on Facebook from the mother, all the time knowing what had happened."