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4-year-old girl dies after mother 'feeds her sedatives to spend more time with boyfriend'

The Independent logo The Independent 1/12/2016 Alexandra Sims

© Provided by Independent Print Limited A four-year-old girl died after being "fed" sedatives by her mother so she could spend time with her boyfriend without being disturbed, a court has heard.

Poppy Widdison died in June 2013 after suffering cardiac arrest at her mother’s then partner's home in Grimsby, Hull Crown Court was told.

Her mother, 37-year-old Michala Pyke, and her former partner John Rytting, 40, have both pleaded guilty to one count of child cruelty, but have denied two other counts. Pyke also admitted a further count of child cruelty through emotional abuse.

Poppy was found to have ingested a cocktail of drugs for a period of up to six months before her death, with tests finding evidence of sedatives, heroin, methadone and ketamine.

Police discovered more than 1,000 tablets of controlled drugs in blister packs around Rytting's "squalid" flat, the Mail Online reports.

Prosecutor David Gordon said text messages sent between the pair described Poppy being given a "blue Smartie" and going to sleep.

Mr Gordon argued that "blue Smartie" was used in reference to the sedative diazepam in the form of a blue tablet.

One text message sent from Pyke to Rytting read: "Get them blue Smarties ready, the ones she likes."

“In text messages in the last week of Poppy Widdison’s life, Mr Rytting and Miss Pyke are referring to getting some diazepam tablets ready to give to Poppy in order to, we say, to sedate her," Mr Gordon told the court.

“We say Pyke and Rytting, the defendants, 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.”

"It’s apparent from the text messages that Miss Pyke viewed Poppy as an inconvenience, who she felt was in the way with regard to her relationship with Mr Rytting."

Mr Gordon argued the text messages signalled Pyke's attitude towards her daughter: “She regarded her child, her own daughter, as something of a nuisance and interfering with Miss Pyke’s enjoyment of her relationship with Mr Rytting.”

The exact cause of Poppy's death is not known, but Mr Gordon said experts determined she was subject to a long period of ill-treatment and neglect, the BBC reports.

Pyke and Rytting have pleaded guilty to child cruelty by letting Poppy live in a home where prescribed and controlled drugs were available and within reach.

Pyke also admitted child cruelty through emotional abuse.

Both Pyke and Rytting deny one count of child cruelty by encouraging Poppy to ingest controlled drugs and one count of child cruelty by assault causing bruising.

Pyke denies two charges of possessing methadone with intent to supply and supplying the drug.

Rytting denies possessing cannabis with intent to supply but admitted one count of importing drugs and two counts of supplying controlled drugs.

The trial continues.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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