A couple will be sentenced today for the murder of a three-year-old boy who died in hospital on Christmas Eve.
Ryan Lovell-Hancox was neglected, abused and beaten by Kayley Boleyn and Christopher Taylor, who were being paid by his mother to care for him.
The couple inflicted more than 70 injuries on Ryan, who died on Christmas Eve in 2008, two days after suffering a brain injury.
Both defendants, who blamed each other for Ryan’s injuries, face mandatory life sentences after being convicted of murder and child cruelty at Wolverhampton Crown Court in England in March.
Boleyn, 19, and Taylor, 25, were looking after Ryan for almost a month at their flat in Slim Avenue, Bilston, West Midlands, while his mother Amy Hancox, 21, decorated her home.
The four-week criminal trial heard Miss Hancox paid the pair £40 a week to look after her son and knew nothing of the abuse.
She told the court: “My crime was naivety. Kayley is related to my family. She never showed any signs of nastiness.”
The pair will be sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court.
Wolverhampton City Council is currently awaiting the findings of a serious case review into Ryan’s death.
Ms Hancox told Wolverhampton Crown Court she was struggling to cope with the demands of single parenthood when she made the fateful decision to allow Ryan to live with her cousin Kayley Boleyn and her partner Christopher Taylor.
Faced with the task of overhauling her home with an energetic three-year-old to look after, Miss Hancox sought the help of her family.
She said: “I found it hard to carry out this work because Ryan kept running out the back door. I soon learned a three-year-old really can’t stay still.
“I asked the children’s father and paternal and maternal grandparents for help and they either couldn’t or wouldn’t help.
“When Kayley offered to look after Ryan for me I was so glad because I knew I would get it done for Christmas.”
Miss Hancox told jurors she had no idea of the catalogue of abuse suffered by Ryan at Taylor and Boleyn’s bedsit.
She said she noticed bruises on his ear a week before he suffered a fatal brain injury in December 2008, but Boleyn claimed he sustained the bruises while he was playing.
Miss Hancox, who was 16 when Ryan was born, issued a statement when Taylor and Boleyn were convicted in March saying she had suffered from depression and self-loathing since Ryan’s death.
She said: “I have followed this trial and I have held my head up high. Not only were Taylor and Boleyn on trial but I myself was made to feel I was on trial.”
Stressing that she had been “very close” to Boleyn, who spent much time at her mother and father’s homes, Miss Hancox, who was brought up as a Jehovah’s Witness, added: “My crime was naivety. Kayley is related to my family. She never showed any signs of nastiness. Whilst we were young, Kayley was allowed to be taken into our home.
“I grew up in a household that was strictly Jehovah’s Witnesses beliefs.”
Miss Hancox said she put herself under a lot of pressure in December 2008.
She said: “I wanted my children to experience Christmas in a way that I never had. I was very anxious about having the house in order and tidy.
“Consequently, I began decorating their bedrooms. The kitchen was completed, lounge, hall, stairs and landing, bathroom was also completed.
“Whenever I saw Ryan at my house or at the (defendants’) flat he was always fine, no signs of anything wrong.”
She added: “Since 24 December 2008, I have suffered agonising depression, self loathing, tremendous guilt and loneliness.
“All I want is to see these two locked up for a lifetime and most of all I want and need a chance to rebuild my life and put my son to rest after this long period of time.”