The teenage mum of a toddler, who died after being bound and restrained face down in her bed, repeatedly blamed herself, a court heard today.
While travelling in an ambulance with her 19-month-old daughter to hospital, Lauren Coyle, “was in shock, at times crying and murmuring she felt it was her fault and that people would blame her,” stated PC Rachel Scott.
The officer’s statement was read to a jury at Liverpool Crown Court trying 19-year-old Coyle, her then boyfriend, Reece Hitchcott and his friend and lodger Connor Kirby on a charge of manslaughter of Ellie-May Minshull Coyle.
The infant had been found unresponsive in a “monstrous cage” which had allegedly been constructed with cot slats by Hitchcott, assisted by Kirby, in the Lostock Hall flat they shared.
Sheets and blankets had been placed around the construction and the little girl had been tied to the mattress of her bed with blankets tightly bound across her chest and legs and a duvet placed over her. Her ankles were also tied together and the sleeping position compromised her breathing.
There were also marks on the child's wrists and ankles, suggesting she had been tied to the 'cage' at some point, Christopher Tehrani, QC, prosecuting, has alleged.
Coyle, of Collins Road, Bamber Bridge, Hitchcott, 20 of no fixed abode, and Kirby, 20, of Octavia Court, Huyton, Liverpool, all also each deny a charge of causing or allowing the death of the child, one charge of child cruelty by 'caging' the child in her bed, and another of child cruelty by restraining her in the bed.
PC Rachel Scott told the court today that when she arrived at Coyle’s flat in Ward Street, Lostock Hall, about 10 am on March 23 last year she saw Coyle’s dad, Sean, outside the property.
“He was clearly shaken and frustrated about what had happened and was continuously willing his grand-daughter to pull through.”
A few minutes later ambulance staff carried the toddler out to the ambulance. “Lauren was clearly shaken and seemed reluctant to get into the ambulance. I sat in the ambulance while staff continued to administer CPR.”
PC Scott stated that Coyle “said she felt it was her fault and she should have checked on her sooner.”
At the Royal Preston Hospital after the child had been pronounced dead she said she sat in the family room with Lauren and her dad, Sean Coyle. Lauren said that Ellie-May had been up throughout the night but she “seemed okay when she checked on at 7 am.
“She said she tried to give her some toast but she did not seem hungry. She said she put her back into her bed and she she continued to cry but left er in her bed to calm down and after 15 minutes she appeared to go quiet.
“The next time she checked on her was 9.30 am when her dad arrived at the flat and went to check. Sean noticed she was not breathing and shouted to Reece Hitchcott ‘was she breathing?’ and he replied ‘yes’.
“Sean noticed Ellie-May’s eyes appeared to be rolled back i her head and there was vomit around her mouth and was not breathing.”
The officer said, “During the time in the family room Lauren continuously blamed herself for Ellie-May’s death and said, ‘I checked on her, I should have checked on her sooner.
“She also questioned whether the case may have been the bed that she was sleeping in. She said she was under the covers and may have been too hot or may have chocked on her vomit on her mouth.
“She also made reference to how Ellie-May had a good life and was always a happy child, ‘she did not deserve this’.”
PC Scott said that the family fluctuated between sadness and shock and recalling how happy she had been and she had had ‘a good little life’.
The officer concluded by saying after “taking a few moments to say goodbye” they then left the hospital.
The trial continues