Woman convicted of manslaughter after filming her dying stepson, three

Stepmother, 23, is found guilty of the manslaughter of her three-year-old stepson but acquitted of murder after filming the little boy as he lay dying and texting his father, ‘Why does this happen to me?’

  • Harvey Borrington, three, suffered a fatal head wound while at home in 2021
  • Stepmother Leila Borrington was convicted of the autistic tot’s manslaughter 

A woman who filmed her fatally injured three-year-old stepson as he lay dying on the floor from an horrific head injury instead of calling for an ambulance has been convicted of manslaughter.

Little Harvey Borrington was found by paramedics at the family home ‘unconscious’ and ‘unresponsive’ on August 7, 2021, a court heard. 

His stepmother Leila Borrington claimed the toddler had fallen off a chair and that she had filmed him moaning on the floor before calling 999 to ‘show paramedics’. 

But medical experts concluded Harvey’s injuries – which included a fractured skull and fatal bleed on the brain – had been caused by repeated blows instead of a one-off fall. Several other older injuries, including a broken arm, were also found. 

During a lengthy trial at Nottingham Crown Court she denied she had ever hit Harvey, but on Tuesday a jury found her guilty of manslaughter. She was acquitted of an alternative charge of murder. 

Harvey Borrington, three, suffered a fractured skull and fatal bleed on the brain while being looked after by his step-mother Leila Borrington at their family home in Jacksdale, Nottingham

Leila Borrington claimed the toddler, who is non-verbal and autistic, had fallen off a chair and that she had filmed him moaning on the floor before calling 999 to ‘show paramedics’. But she was today convicted of manslaughter by a jury 

The 23-year-old from Jacksdale, Nottingham, was also convicted of separate charges of assaulting and causing grievous bodily harm to Harvey Borrington 

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.

READ MORE: Toddler was filmed by his stepmother as he lay dying on the floor her from a brain injury

The killer stepmother, who will be sentenced on March 16, wiped away tears with the back of her hands after the verdicts.

A trial which started on November 16 last year was told Harvey sustained fatal head injuries, including a fractured skull and a bleed on the brain, at Borrington’s home in Main Road, Jacksdale, near Mansfield, on August 7 2021.

Harvey, who spent most weekends with Borrington, died in hospital on August 9 after paramedics were called to the address and found him ‘deeply unconscious’, ‘unresponsive’ and with ‘abnormal body posture’.

Jonas Hankin KC, opening the prosecution’s case, said Borrington had been 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, who was autistic and non-verbal, was taken to nearby King’s Mill Hospital, in Mansfield, and then transferred to Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre, but later died.

Jurors were shown footage, filmed by Borrington just moments after Harvey’s collapse, with the little boy seen lying on his right side, his arms out in front of him, and heard moaning.

On the video – shot on Borrington’s phone and sent to Harvey’s father who was out at that time – she can he heard saying ‘Harvey, Harv’, while he continues to moan.

Leila Borrington, of Main Road, Jacksdale (pictured), was acquitted of murder but convicted of manslaughter after the toddler suffered a serious head injury at home on August 7, 2021

She can then be seen taking the boy’s left arm, lifting it up, and letting it drop loosely to the floor, before continuing to film as he moans, and lies, unmoving on a living-room rug.

Mr Hankin said the defendant’s behaviour was ‘very unusual in the circumstances’.

‘Her instinct, seeing a child unconscious and in distress having sustained serious injury following a fall, is to reach for her phone and make a video rather than call an ambulance,’ said Mr Hankin.

She 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.

‘The lifting and dropping of his arm in that way, similarly, appears to show indifference to the obvious severity of his condition.’

Rather than call 999, she then texted Harvey’s father – out at the cinema – and said: ‘Why does this happen to me?’

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

It was only three minutes after filming Harvey she rang 999 and while waiting to be connected ran to a neighbour and brought them to help.

That neighbour later told of having heard a ‘thud’ from the Borrington’s home before the stepmother started ‘hammering’ on her door.

While waiting for the ambulance, Borrington sent Harvey’s father another text saying ‘Don’t leave the kids with me again’.

When paramedics arrived, at 2.15pm, they saw Harvey was ‘floppy’, his eyes ‘fixed’, and he had vomited, so it was decided to take him to hospital.

On the way, Borrington allegedly told the ambulance driver ‘it always happened when Harvey was with her’ and related how he had broken his arm while in her care some weeks previously.

Borrington had also texted Harvey’s father, telling him: ‘(Harvey) got up and was running riot, playing happily as ever, running between the sofas and then stood up on one and just came backwards…smacking his head off the floor.’

Borrington told how she was ‘sat on the sofa’ when it happened, but later told her neighbour she had been stood near the kitchen and ‘ran’ to help Harvey.

Mr Hankin told jurors: ‘You don’t need me to point out an inconsistent history about an event like this is a red flag.’

A later post-mortem examination found the boy had ‘suffered trauma to the head’ which ‘had caused damage to the brain itself’, added Mr Hankin.

A general view of Nottingham Crown Court, Nottingham

He added that a series of medical experts instructed by the prosecution were ‘all in agreement; Harvey was unlawfully killed’.

‘At least one – possibly more than one – severe impacts to the head capable of causing a skull fracture and an unsurvivable brain injury, rendered him immediately unconscious,’ said Mr Hankin.

He said the jury would also hear it was one medical expert’s view that fatal brain damage was inflicted ‘some hours prior to collapse’.

‘By one or more forceful hand strikes or slaps to the side of the head, followed by a substantial later impact, causing the skull fracture,’ said Mr Hankin.

After the verdicts were returned, Mr Justice Nicklin excused jurors from further jury service for 10 years and remanded Borrington in custody.

Thanking the jury panel for its ‘crucial’ decision-making, the judge added: ‘You all now know how critically important juries are to our jury system.’

Detective Inspector Simon Harrison, of Nottinghamshire Police, said the investigation into Harvey’s death had been ‘difficult’

Speaking after the verdicts, he told Nottinghamshire Live: ‘This was a tragic incident that shocked the local community. Harvey was a much-loved little boy who was cherished by his parents and his wider family.

‘As a police officer I am pleased with the decision of the jury in this case, but I acutely aware that it is of no consolation to those left behind. 

‘This has been a very lengthy and difficult investigation and I would like to thank everyone involved in getting us to this point.’

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