Woman who kept toddler, 2, in cage and also tried to sell the child for £1million found dead

Monday, April 8, 2024
 – A woman who had kept a child in a cot cage and was caught trying to sell the same baby for £1million among other child neglect convictions has been found dead in her home.

Officers who visited Claire Boyle’s home on Thursday, April 4, at 7am in Ochiltree, East Ayrshire, found her body.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: "Around 7am on Thursday, April 4, 2024, police were called to a property in the Main Street area of Ochiltree, following the sudden death of a woman. There are not believed to be any suspicious circumstances and a report was submitted to the Procurator Fiscal."

The woman in her late 30s had a long list of previous convictions for child neglect.

In February 2021, Kilmarnock Sheriff Court heard she neglected a four-year-old child so badly doctors feared he had blood cancer or a blood clotting disorder.

The child was only discovered after he escaped through a six-inch gap between the frame and pane and dropped four feet to the ground, the child, who was covered in bruises.

The child was only wearing pyjamas and was found wandering the street in the rain. After police were contacted they went to the home Ms Boyle shared with her partner, Timothy Johnstone, who was 23 years her senior. When they arrived at the property in Newmilns, East Ayrshire, the investigating officers found a two-year-old child being kept in a home-made cage. The base of a cot had been removed and secured to the top with belts from dressing gowns, meaning a child could not escape once inside.

After a lengthy trial, both Ms Boyle and Mr Johnstone, 60, who denied child neglect were found guilty. However, the pair were spared jail and Ms Boyle was ordered to complete 250 hours of unpaid work.

Despite her two child neglect cases and being spared jail Ms Boyle was allowed to look after the kids.

In 2014, at Ayr Sheriff Court, she was given a Community Payback Order for being found comatose on a couch, through drink or drugs, with a distressed baby at her feet.

At the same court, also in 2014, she was given another Community Payback Order after being caught trying to sell the same baby for £1million on Ayr High Street. She also shook the boy, shouted at him, and abandoned him in a "damp and draughty" close in the seaside town.

Boyle, who was originally from Dumfries and Galloway, also had a number of live court cases. With two cases heard at Ayr Sheriff Court in February this year, Ms Boyle was due in the dock again at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court in June over two further prosecutions.

Ms Boyle also went unpunished in 2023 after attacking a police officer and breaching bail conditions. Kilmarnock Sheriff Court heard she kicked a female officer and tried to head butt her while being arrested for failing to sign in at a police station.

Whilst she could have been jailed for upto 18 months for such offences, Ms Boyle was placed on a Community Payback Order and told she would be supervised by social workers for 18 months.

Ms Boyle claimed that she couldn’t attend signing on at the police station because she was fleeing her home after her partner in crime turned on her. Defence solicitor Brian Holliman said she had to move to escape Mr Johnstone after they were spared jail for child neglect.

Mr Holliman told the court: "She was fleeing an abusive relationship. She left that relationship in October [2022]. On several occasions she was reported as a missing or vulnerable person by her partner, Mr Johnstone. She is located by police officers and can behave badly towards them."

He said she drank to excess to cope and had been drunk when officers arrived at the property in Galston, East Ayrshire, on April 17 last year to arrest her. She shouted "no, no no" as the officers tried to detain her where she resisted arrest, and threw a head butt. They restrained her and she lashed out, kicking one of them on the stomach.

Her bail conditions required her to sign in at a police station but she failed to do so on March 31 last year, leading to officers going to her then-home in April to arrest her.

A year later, in April 2024, she was found dead in her home.

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