Dad of toddler who died after being bound in 'monstrous cage bed.

The father of a toddler, who died after being bound and forced to sleep face down in her cot, alleged the girl's mum blamed her new boyfriend for her death, a court heard. Ellie-May Minshull-Coyle died aged just 19 months old in a 'monstrous cage', the prosecution claims, which had been constructed around her bed in the flat she shared with her mother Lauren Coyle and Reece Hitchcott. John Minshull moved out of the first floor flat he shared with Coyle, 19, in Lostock Hall, Preston, in December 2016 after she told him she had cheated on him with Hitchcott. Mr Minshull, 19, told a jury today that he didn't know if Coyle was telling the truth about the affair as she often lied to him but he decided to leave. Coyle began living with Hitchcott the same month. Ellie-May died on March 23, 2017.
Mr Minshull claimed they had been having difficulties with their relationship and she would take out her temper on him. “She ruined my day a lot,” he said. After their daughter died on March 23 last year he had a meeting with her at her parent’s home to find out what had happened.“She was blaming Reece. I didn’t know if she was telling the truth or not," he said. He told Liverpool Crown Court that Coyle said Reece had used Velcro-straps to tie Ellie-May’s ankles.“She said Reece had got rid of the straps on the morning she was taken to the hospital.”The child was found by Coyle’s father, Sean Coyle, who had called round after messages from Coyle during the night expressing her frustration with Ellie-May not sleeping.
He found Hitchcott crouching down by the side of the bed and believed he was trying to wake Ellie-May, who was lying on her back. Prosecutor Mr Christopher Tehrani said: “When Mr Coyle looked at Ellie-May her eyes rolled back into her head and she looked ‘clammy’. Mr Coyle now knew that something terrible had happened to Ellie."The sides of the bed not against the wall were enclosed by the slatted sides of a cot which were tied together with ligatures and tied to the bed frame. Sheets and bedding were placed over the sides of the 'monstrous cage' to prevent her seeing outside, there were no working lights in her bedroom and a mattress was covering the window, Mr Tehrani told the jury of six women and six men. The little girl had been tied to the mattress of her bed with blankets tied tightly across her chest and legs and a duvet placed over her. Her ankles were also tied together and the sleeping position compromised her breathing, causing her death, he claimed. There were also marks on the child's wrists and ankles, suggesting she had been tied to the 'cage' at some point.
A post-mortem examination carried out by Home Office pathologist Dr Alison Armour concluded her death was caused by 'forcible restraint by ligatures in a face-down position complicated by hyperthermia'.Coyle, of Collins Road, Bamber Bridge, Preston; Hitchcott, 20 of no fixed abode, and their lodger, Connor Kirby, 20, of Octavia Court, Huyton, Liverpool, all deny manslaughter. They 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. Mr Minshull said today that he had “suspicions” about his daughter’s death believing “there would have been a lot more to it".He explained that they were both 15 when Coyle fell pregnant. She told him the news on his 16th birthday and when they discussed the situation, Coyle said she wanted to keep the baby. She was living with her parents but they threw her out and so she moved in with him and his mum.
Lauren decided she wanted a place of her own. I would have preferred living with my mum. I thought it was too much of a rush.”The flat was a mess but he and his dad decorated it before they moved in. Despite advice to the contrary, they let the baby sleep with them in their bed as they had trouble getting her to sleep. He told how Coyle was “struggling” to cope and she was “very messy” and he said he became OCD at keeping it tidy. Mr Minshull said he often changed Ellie-May’s nappies as Coyle was “always on her phone to her mates.”Asked by Hitchcott’s QC James Pickup if Coyle used to lose her temper with the child when she was crying he replied, “yes”.As their relationship deteriorated they began arguing and she would shout at him.“‘She would say she was struggling and wanted a break, getting tired all the time. When she was tired she started getting angrier. She would take it out on me a lot.”

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