September 2017

‘Haunted’ for rest of her life – the mum whose toddler was battered by pal’s boyfriend

A mother whose baby was so badly battered while babysitters were supposed to be looking after him that she didn’t recognise him, said she will be “haunted” for the rest of her life.

While she was away for four days sorting out a new flat, the 20-month-old boy was battered, bruised, bitten and left with a fractured collar bone.

Nicholas Lessiter, 26, carried out the sickening litany of abuse while his girlfriend Rebecca Barnes, 22, a friend of the boy’s mother, wore headphones.

Barnes and Lessiter, whose attacks were referred to as “sadistic” in court, were both jailed today at Mold Crown Court.

He received five years and she was sentenced to two and a half years for the violence carried out at her home in Ruthin.

Lessiter was cleared of raping the child.

The toddler’s mother went to the witness stand to read out her own victim impact statement.

She said that it was an understatement to say how she and the family had been left devastated by what had happened.

“I will never forget what these people did to my son,” she said.

At the time she was going through a rough patch and trusted Barnes, believing she was being a good friend by offering to help care for her son.

She said that she was grateful for the extra support and it was arranged that she should care for him for some days while she and her new partner were flat hunting.

The mother said she loved her son very much and added: “My decision to leave him in her care was the worst decision of my life.

“I deeply regret it.

“It will haunt me for the rest of my life.”

She said she could not fully explain the guilt she felt.

“How could I have made such an error of judgement?” she said.

Following the attacks the child was taken into care.

“When my son needed me most I could not be there to cuddle and comfort him,” she said.

She was only allowed to have supervised access to him three times a week.

“I cried and cried and cried at not having my baby with me,” she said.

She said she knew the huge mistake she had made and she had worked with social services to show how much she loved for and cared for her son.

When her second child was born it should have been such a lovely time but in the absence of her son she described it as a dark time.

At one stage she feared she would never have him home but he was returned to her.

The day he came home was “the best day of my life,” she said.

She said that she was so grateful that she had a second chance and would never let her son down again.

He was such a beautiful and intelligent little boy.

She told how she still had sleepiness nights and nightmares over what had happened and she worried about how it might affect him in the future.

“I will never forget what these two people did to him,” she said.

She could not believe that human beings could carry out such despicable acts against a little boy.

Prosecuting barrister Anna Pope told the court: “By the time he was returned to his mother’s care he was almost unrecognisable.

The mother had been grateful for Barnes’ offer of help but was not aware that Lessiter would be present.

Barnes went on to present the boy as her own child and with Lessiter as the father.

She convinced other family members, including her own mother that she was a grandmother.

While the boy was in their care, Barnes sent his mother photographs of him to re-assure her that he was fine.

When he was returned she apologised for an injury to his face and said he had fallen.

Interviewed by police, both denied doing anything to the boy and came up with various explanations of falling and tripping over a brush.

Lessiter, of Gwynfryn Avenue in Rhyl, was sentenced to five years and Barnes of of Mwrog Street in Ruthin, to two and a half years.

Lessiter had admitted child cruelty while Barnes admitted child cruelty on the basis that she was aware of the injuries but did nothing to help and did not seek medical attention for him.

The pair also received a lifetime ban from approaching the mother and the boy.

A baby the pair had together has since been put up for adoption.