A senior police officer has described the death of toddler Ellie-May as the most distressing case she has ever had to deal with.
Detective Chief Inspector Zoe Russo, of the Force Major Investigation Team, said: “This case has been the most distressing that myself and the team have ever had to deal with.
"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 heart-breaking. 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 & 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.”
Brett Gerrity, from the CPS, said: “This is a tragic case in which a young and innocent child was treated in the worst possible way by those who should have kept her safe from harm.
“During the trial the prosecution proved that by restraining Ellie-May in her bed, or knowing that she had been restrained in such a way, Lauren Coyle and Reece Hitchcott wilfully contributed to or directly caused her untimely death.
“Throughout the case the defendants denied responsibility for causing her death and blamed each other, but today the jury have found the child’s mother and her partner guilty of causing her death and neglecting her.
“I would like to express my sympathy to Ellie-May’s family and loved ones.
An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Coyle and Hitchcott’s actions caused Ellie-May pain and anguish that ultimately led to the end of her very short life.
“Looking out for babies and young children, who depend entirely on those caring for them, is something we should all do. And the NSPCC is here to help. If you have a concern about a child, call 0808 800 5000 and one of our helpline counsellors will be there to listen.”
The NSPCC’s confidential helpline is available 24/7 on 0808 8005000. Or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.