A woman who filmed her three-year-old stepson as he lay dying on the floor with a horrific head injury instead of calling for an ambulance has been jailed for 15 years.
Harvey Borrington was found ‘unconscious’ and ‘unresponsive’ by paramedics at the family home in Jacksdale, near Mansfield, on August 7, 2021, Nottingham Crown Court was told.
His stepmother Leila Borrington, 23, had said that the toddler, who was autistic and non-verbal, fell off a chair and she had filmed him moaning on the floor before calling 999 to ‘show paramedics’.
But medical experts found that Harvey’s injuries – including a fractured skull and fatal bleed on the brain – were caused by repeated blows instead of a one-off fall. Several other older injuries, including a broken arm, were also found.
Harvey’s mother Katie Holroyd told the court today: ‘I cannot bear to think of him lying on the floor dying with her filming him and delaying his medical help. My beautiful boy could not talk, he couldn’t articulate the suffering he had to endure. He couldn’t tell me he didn’t want to go. We only know when she abused him then killed him in that violent attack.’
The court heard that rather than call 999, Borrington had texted Harvey’s father saying, ‘Why does this happen to me?’
She has today been jailed for 15 years for manslaughter, assault and causing grievous bodily harm.
Jurors were shown footage, filmed by Borrington just moments after Harvey’s collapse, showing the little boy lying on his right side and moaning with his arms out in front of him.
In the video – shot on Borrington’s phone and sent to Harvey’s father – she was recorded taking the boy’s left arm, lifting it up and letting it drop to the floor, before continuing to film as he lay unmoving on a living-room rug.
Prosecutor Jonas Hankin KC said the defendant’s behaviour was very unusual in the circumstances. She did not appear to be an attempt to rouse him and said it suggested an absence of compassion.
Mr Hankin told jurors: ‘The lifting and dropping of his arm in that way, similarly, appears to show indifference to the obvious severity of his condition.’
The prosecutor also claimed that Borrington targeted Harvey, who communicated through hand gestures and very few words, because he was unable to articulate when he was in pain.
Harvey, who spent most weekends with Borrington, died in hospital on August 9, two days after paramedics were called and found him ‘deeply unconscious’, ‘unresponsive’ and with ‘abnormal body posture’.
In a heart-rending victim impact statement, which she read to the court herself, Ms Holroyd said: ‘He was my world. Not a day has gone by when we don’t wake up broken by the thought we can never hold him again, hear him laugh or watch him grow.
‘His life was cruelly ended when he was only three years old, killed by the very person who was trusted to care for him and protect him.
‘To have it confirmed that before his death Harvey was assaulted by Leila Borrington will be a lifelong torment for me, a recurring nightmare which I will never be able to wake from’.
Ms Holroyd added Borrington had ‘lied to save herself’. She said: ‘She knew what she had done to him and could have said so from the start. Instead she made the decision to lie, which increased our pain even further. I found the evidence given by the two pathologists particularly harrowing. Parts of my baby were removed and sent around the country.
‘No sentence that can repair the pain done by this selfish and cruel act.’
Passing sentence, High Court judge Mr Justice Nicklin said the unlawful killing of her stepson, who had severe non-verbal autism, had had a profound effect on his loved ones.
Justice Nicklin said Borrington had ‘abused her position of trust’, adding: ‘The jury’s verdict shows they were sure you had assaulted him, causing the very serious head injuries that ultimately led to his death.
‘The overall evidence, particularly the expert evidence, demonstrates that must have been a sustained, violent assault.
‘Harvey’s death has had a profound effect on those who loved him. There is a history of your use of violence against Harvey.
‘Only one person is responsible for Harvey’s death . I accept you were young – but there is no evidence you were immature.’
Text messages Borrington had sent after breaking Harvey’s arm in April 2021 showed ‘a shocking lack of care and concern’ for the youngster, the judge said.
During a lengthy trial at Nottingham Crown Court, she denied ever hitting Harvey, but last month a jury found her guilty of manslaughter.
Borrington was handed a two-year jail term for GBH and six months for assaulting him – to be served concurrently with her manslaughter sentence. She must serve two-thirds of the sentence in prison before she can be released.
She was acquitted of an alternative charge of murder.
Returning a total of seven verdicts after deliberating for more than 24 hours, jurors also cleared Borrington of three charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The killer stepmother wiped away tears with the back of her hands after the verdicts.
Opening the prosecution’s case, Mr Hankin said that Borrington was at home caring alone for the youngster while Harvey’s father had been at work when it was likely the fatal injury was ‘inflicted’ at the couple’s home.
Harvey was taken to nearby King’s Mill Hospital in Mansfield and then transferred to Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre, but later died.
Borrington later claimed the video was to show paramedics – though she did not, jurors heard.
Mr Hankin added: ‘The tone of her voice, when calling Harvey’s name, in her attempts to rouse him – if that’s an accurate description, we say it is not – suggest an absence of compassion.’
Rather than call 999, she then texted Harvey’s father, who was at the cinema, and said: ‘Why does this happen to me?’
Mr Hankin told the court Borrington’s actions after Harvey’s collapse ‘aggravated her offending’.
He said: ‘She knew Harvey had sustained a severe head injury because she inflicted it, and she knew as a result he was in a state of collapse, his breathing was abnormal and he was fitting.
‘She knew he needed emergency medical treatment at the very least but she delayed for approximately five minutes.