Grief of mother of little boy, 3, beaten to death by his stepmother

‘I cannot bear to think of him lying on the floor dying with her filming him’: Birth mother of three-year-old autistic boy killed by his cruel stepmother says he died at the hands ‘of the person trusted to protect him’

  • Harvey Borrington was found by paramedics at the family home ‘unconscious’  
  • His stepmother Leila Borrington, 23, had said that the toddler fell off a chair 
  • But Borrington has today been jailed for 15 years for manslaughter following trial

The mother of an autistic three-year-old boy today described her ‘torment’ after her non-verbal son lay dying on the floor from an horrific head injury inflicted by his ‘selfish and cruel’ stepmother – who filmed him rather than call 999.

Harvey Borrington was found ‘unconscious’ and ‘unresponsive’ by paramedics at the family home in Jacksdale, near Mansfield, on August 7, 2021.

Leila Borrington, 23, filmed her three-year-old stepson as he lay dying instead of calling for an ambulance. She was jailed for 15 years today for manslaughter, assault and causing grievous bodily harm.

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.’ 

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’. The court heard that rather than call 999, she had instead texted Harvey’s father saying, ‘Why does this happen to me?’

Katie Holroyd with her son Harvey Borrington, who was beaten to death by his stepmother Leila Borrington, who was jailed for 15 years today

Borrington filmed her three-year-old stepson Harvey as he lay dying from a brain injury. She lied about how he suffered the injuries. She has been convicted of  manslaughter, assault and causing grievous bodily harm 

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.

Little Harvey, was autistic and non-verbal, and killed by a woman who should have cared for h

Harvey’s mother Katie today gave 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.’

Leila Borrington 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.

Harvey Borrington, three, suffered a fractured skull and fatal bleed on the brain while being looked after by his stepmother Leila Borrington at their family home in Nottinghamshire

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.’

Mother’s heartbreaking tribute to her son Harvey 

Prior to sentence, Harvey’s mother Katie Holroyd read a victim personal statement to the court, in which she paid tribute to her son as ‘the most loving little boy anyone could have wished for’. 

She told the court: ‘Harvey’s life was cruelly ended when he was only three years old. 

‘To this day I cannot bear to think of him lying on the floor dying with her filming him and delaying getting medical help.’ 

Describing Harvey’s death as a recurring nightmare from which she will never be able to wake, Ms Holroyd added: ‘We will always treasure the short time we had to spend with him. 

‘She [Leila Borrington] knew what she had done to him and she could have said so from the start.’ 

Instead, Miss Holroyd said, Borrington had ‘chosen to lie, no doubt to try and save herself’. 

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’.

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.

Nottingham Queen’s Medical Centre is pictured. Harvey Borrington died in hospital after suffering a serious head injury while at home in August 2021 with his stepmother

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.

‘What she did do was video Harvey in a state of collapse, and then message Mr Borrington in these terms: “Why does this happen to me?” She knew why – she had assaulted him.

‘This can only be sensibly interpreted as an attempt to convince Mr Borrington and others that she was blameless. She was calculating how she could avoid responsibility for her actions while Harvey was fighting for his life.

‘The court can be sure she delayed calling the emergency services because her immediate concern was not for Harvey’s welfare, but to exculpate herself.

‘She made no real attempt to assist Harvey. She was, say the prosecution, indifferent to Harvey’s condition, and one doubts that anyone will forget how she picked up and dropped his arm in the context of what she knew she had done.’

Mr Hankin added Borrington had lied to paramedics and ‘shown no evidence of remorse’ for Harvey’s death.

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