Woman who kept toddler in cage caught when another boy, 4, escaped from window

A two-year-old boy was kept in a home-made cage and another toddler was left riddled with bruises during a horrific catalogue of neglect.

Wicked Claire Boyle trapped the toddler in a modified cot, claiming the cage was for the boy’s own protection.

A second child, who escaped the neglect, was found to be so severely bruised a doctor thought he might have a blood disorder.

Previously a court heard that Boyle had tried to sell a child for £1 million and had shaken him, shouted at him and abandoned him.

It only came to light after a four-year-old boy escaped from the flat by squeezing through a six-inch gap in the window and dropping four feet to the ground.

He was found alone in the street in his pyjamas in the rain after fleeing the property.

When taken to hospital to be checked over, medics discovered so many bruises they thought he may have blood cancer or a blood clotting disorder.

Dr Christine Findlay, a consultant paediatrician with NHS Ayrshire and Arran, said there were “fingertip bruises” on the four-year-old boy which suggested “a child having been grabbed”.

The paediatrician said the boy had so many bruises doctors believed he may have an “underlying medical condition which predisposed the child to bleeding – a blood disorder, like hemophilia or leukemia”.

Boyle – who had claimed the older boy self-harmed and the cot was modified to protect the younger boy – is now facing jail after racking up her third conviction for child neglect.

The 34-year-old and her partner Timothy Johnstone, 57, were both convicted of neglect on Thursday after a trial at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court.

The court heard a passer-by found the older boy alone in soaked nightwear in a street in Newmilns, Ayrshire, on October 3, 2018.

They alerted police, leading to an investigation and when officers arrived at the property they found the younger child trapped in the makeshift cage in a bedroom.

Giving evidence, Police Constable Adam Peppard said: “[The toddler’s] nappy was full and hanging low and he was upset.

“[He] was within the makeshift cot – the bottom of the cot had been removed and strapped to the top to stop the child getting out.

“It was turned into a very risky cage.

“She [Boyle] started blaming it on the other child. She said it was ‘all his fault’. She stated he was able to open the window and let himself out.

“She said her solution was to put things in front of the window and to put the base over the top of the cot.”

The court also heard that when he was found the older boy appeared extremely hungry.

Dr Findlay said the “number, size and pattern” of bruises on the boy left her “worried.”

She said it was unlikely the child had caused some of the bruises by self-harming and said there were far more than she would expect to see from “normal childhood play”.

And she said he had “crusted” blood around his ears, which indicated “a blow to the ear”, adding: “This is a child who has lots of signs of injuries.”

A charge the couple assaulted the older boy was withdrawn by prosecutor Ed Sheeran during the trial and they were cleared of claims they had also neglected a baby.

But Sheriff Higgins convicted Boyle of neglecting the two-year-old and the four-year-old children, and Johnstone of neglecting the four-year-old.

The judge called for background reports to be prepared ahead of sentencing and adjourned the case.

In 2015, Ayr Sheriff Court heard Boyle tried to sell a child for £1million.

She also shook the boy, shouted at him and abandoned him in a “damp and draughty” close in the town.

When asked to comment outside court on Thursday, Boyle insisted she had done nothing wrong.

When asked about her previous convictions, she said: “Shut your mouth. Get tae f***.”