The mother of toddler Ryan Lovell-Hancox felt a deep sense of self-loathing and guilt for placing her son in the care of a couple who went on to murder him.
In a victim impact statement read out in court today, Amy Hancox, 21, said she loved her son “with all her heart”.
She had paid £40-a-week to her cousin, 19-year-old Kayley Boleyn, to look after the boy as she dealt with her own mental health problems.
But instead of caring for the child, Boleyn and her boyfriend, 25-year-old Christopher Taylor, repeatedly beat him about the face and body.
In the end, Ryan suffered a massive brain haemorrhage and was rushed to hospital. He died on Christmas Eve 2008.
In court today, Hugh O’Brien-Quinn, prosecuting, read parts of two statements, one from Miss Hancox and the other from John Lovell, the boy’s 24-year-old father.
Miss Hancox fled the court in tears as the statements were summarised for the judge.
Mr O’Brien-Quinn said: “She (Miss Hancox) says Ryan was a bubbly, intelligent boy and how she loved him with all her heart and is devastated by the loss.
“She has felt self-loathing and guilt as well as the sorrow she has for the loss of her child.”
Mr O’Brien-Quinn added: “In his own statement, Mr Lovell said Ryan was a kind and loving little boy who was loving and protective of his sister.
“It says how he misses his child’s laugh and cheeky smile and how he loved him with all his heart.”
Ryan’s parents were supported in the public gallery by their family and friends.
They often turned and glared at the two defendants in the dock but neither Taylor nor Boleyn looked over towards the public gallery.
They stared straight ahead, not flinching when Mrs Justice Macur passed her sentences of life imprisonment.
Taylor, who was dressed in a prison-issue blue-and-white striped shirt and blue jeans, sat next to one of two guards in the dock. Three seats away sat Boleyn, who looked pale and drawn. She was wearing a white vest, blue jeans and a black cardigan.