The mother of a toddler who was tortured by a couple employed to care for him has revealed her "self-loathing and guilt" at his death.
Amy Hancox paid Kayley Boleyn and her boyfriend Christopher Taylor £40-a-week to look after three-year-old Ryan Lovell-Hancox after realising she could not cope with the strains of motherhood.
The 21-year-old suffered from mental health problems and was trying to decorate her flat. She thought Boleyn would provide her young son with all the love and attention he needed. They were cousins, had grown up together and Miss Hancox had no reason not to trust the 19-year-old when she left Ryan at the flat she shared with Taylor, 25, in Bilston, West Midlands, in November 2008.
A month later the child was in a coma in hospital, having suffered a massive brain haemorrhage at the ground floor flat in Slim Avenue. The "bubbly, intelligent boy" never woke up and on Christmas Eve he died.
At Wolverhampton Crown Court, the sadistic pair were jailed for life for Ryan's murder. The court heard how young Ryan's life was turned to "hell" as he was forced to live in squalor during the month spent with Boleyn and Taylor.
The violence he suffered at the hands of the couple, who were both addicted to cannabis and alcohol, was not borne from a "flash of temper" but was sustained and horrific. The child was repeatedly beaten about the face, back and buttocks. His skull received 10 severe blows and he had more than 70 injuries to his body by the time he died.
Two days before his death, Miss Hancox confronted Boleyn and Taylor at their home as she tried to see her son for what would have been the last time. But by this stage the boy had severe bruising to his face and they stopped her from barging in. The duo even managed to see-off a social worker the very day Ryan was rushed to hospital in a coma.
Miss Hancox's anguish at ever deciding to leave her son with the couple was revealed in a victim impact statement read to the court by prosecuting barrister Hugh O'Brien Quinn. It became so unbearable for her that she broke from the arms of Ryan's father, 24-year-old John Lovell, as they sat in the public gallery and ran out of the court in tears.
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."
After ordering Boleyn to serve at least 13 years in prison and Taylor to spend a minimum of 15 years in jail, Mrs Justice Macur said she hoped Ryan's parents could now move on with their lives. She said Boleyn and Taylor had "abused their trust", providing better care for their two dogs.