A couple who brutally murdered a toddler they were paid to look after were today jailed for life.
Kayley Boleyn, 19, and 25-year-old Christopher Taylor inflicted more than 70 injuries on three-year-old Ryan Lovell-Hancox.
The boy lived with the couple at their flat in Bilston, West Midlands, England for a month before he was rushed to hospital in a coma having suffered a massive brain haemorrhage.
They had been paid £40-a-week by the boy’s mother and Boleyn’s cousin, 21-year-old Amy Hancox, who felt she could no longer look after the child because of her own mental problems.
But Boleyn “abused the trust” of Ryan’s parents, who had no idea of their son’s suffering.
Wolverhampton Crown Court heard Taylor and Boleyn made Ryan’s life hell in the weeks before his death on Christmas Eve 2008.
They forced the youngster to live in “squalor”, providing better care for two dogs they had brought into the home.
The court heard the violence shown towards Ryan was not borne from a “flash of temper” but was sustained and horrific.
Two days before Ryan’s death, Miss Hancox tried to batter down the door to Boleyn’s home to see her son for what would have been the last time while he was alive.
But Boleyn, who like her boyfriend was addicted to cannabis and alcohol, refused to let the mother in as Ryan’s face and body was covered in bruising.
Today, Mrs Justice Macur ordered Boleyn to serve at least 13 years in prison while Taylor was told his minimum term would be 15 years.
The judge said: “It’s clear to me that you (Boleyn) and your defendant were incapable of looking after yourselves, let alone a child.
“There were bruises to his skull, which had been inflicted by up to 10 individual blows. There were marks on his legs and grazes to his face. He had been grabbed forcibly around the jaw and slapped and punched.
“These were not in isolation. There were further assaults to his lower back and buttocks on which there was extensive bruising.
“It really was a case where the jury saw injuries from top to toe. He (Ryan) would have suffered emotionally and physically and he would have needed comfort, but you mocked him.”
The judge added: “You were unable to keep your own lives under control without smoking cannabis and alcohol and you took your petty grievances out on this boy because you regarded him as hyperactive and out of control.”
It was revealed during today’s 45-minute hearing that Boleyn, who along with Taylor was found guilty in March of murder and child cruelty, was known to social services.
A social worker even attended the home she shared with Taylor on Slim Avenue the day the toddler was rushed to hospital in a coma.
Social workers were aware Boleyn had problems after she left school at the age of 12 to care for her younger siblings.
Frances Oldham QC, representing Boleyn, read a probation officer’s report to the court.
In it, the officer said: “I believe Miss Boleyn is vulnerable and in need of assistance. She has very few supportive relationships in her life and as a result is very isolated.”
Wolverhamton City Council said it expected to publish the findings of its serious-case review this autumn.
Ryan’s mother and his father, 24-year-old John Lovell, wept throughout today’s hearing.
Miss Hancox ran from the public gallery in tears as her victim impact statement was read out. In it she described her son as a “bubbly, intelligent boy who she loved with all her heart”.
In the dock, Taylor and Boleyn stared straight ahead, not even flinching when Mrs Justice Macur passed the sentences of life imprisonment.
Detective Constable Keith Langdon, a family liaison officer, issued a statement on behalf of Ryan's family.
The officer said: “Ryan died on Christmas Eve 2008 because of what Christopher Taylor and Kayley Boleyn did to him.
“They deprived Ryan of his life and so they should be deprived of their freedom. We do not believe that they should ever be released and that life should mean life.
“We think about Ryan everyday and we realise that nothing will bring him back. We hope that Christopher Taylor and Kayleigh Boleyn will think about what they have done for the rest of their lives in the same way that we think about losing him.”