Poppy Widdison death: Mother and partner guilty of cruelty

Poppy Widdison Image copyright Humberside Police
Image caption Poppy Widdison died at Sheffield Children's Hospital in June 2013

A mother and her ex-partner have been found guilty of child cruelty after feeding drugs to her four-year-old daughter.

Poppy Widdison collapsed at her home in Grimsby and later died in hospital from a cardiac arrest in June 2013.

Her mother Michala Pyke, 37, of Ladysmith Road, and her former partner John Rytting, 40, of Frederick Street denied giving her drugs in the months before her death.

The pair will be sentenced in January.

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The jury at Hull Crown Court heard Pyke and Rytting encouraged the young girl to eat sedatives because they felt she was an inconvenience to their relationship.

Text messages between the pair talked about Poppy having a "blue Smartie", believed to be a reference to the sedative diazepam, and going to sleep, the court heard.

'Grossly inappropriate'

David Gordon, prosecuting, told the jury: "We say Pyke and Rytting are just wanting to get on with their love life, wanting to enjoy each other's company and it may be this young girl was something of an encumbrance."

A post-mortem examination could not establish a cause of death but toxicology tests carried out on her blood and hair found various drugs and showed the young girl had been exposed to and had ingested significant amounts of heroin and methadone for a period of between two and six months before her death, the court heard.

The drugs did not contribute to Poppy's death but experts agreed there was a "long period of ill-treatment and neglect by the grossly inappropriate administration of various drugs to the child by the defendants", the jury heard.

Speaking after the verdicts, Det Supt Umberto Cuozzo, said: "Poppy was betrayed by the very people who were entrusted to keep her safe from harm.

"They put their relationship, lifestyle and drugs before her and I hope they now come forward and tell the truth about the events that led to Poppy's death in June 2013."

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