NewsCrime Desk

Mum “encouraged girl to eat sedatives so she could spend time with boyfriend”

Poppy Widdison
Poppy Widdison

A mother encouraged her four-year-old daughter to eat sedatives because she felt she was an inconvenience to her relationship with her drug dealer boyfriend, a court has heard.

Poppy Widdison died in June 2013 after suffering a cardiac arrest at the "squalid", drug-filled home of Michala Pyke's partner John Rytting, Hull Crown Court heard.

Tests carried out after she died found that the youngster had ingested a variety of drugs for a period of up to six months before her death, including sedatives, heroin, methadone and ketamine, a jury was told.

Opening the case against Pyke and Rytting, who are both accused of child cruelty, David Gordon said text messages recovered between the pair referenced Poppy having a "blue Smartie" and going to sleep.

Mr Gordon told the jury it was the prosecution's case that "blue Smartie" was a reference to the sedative diazepam, in the form of a blue tablet.

Another text from Pyke to Rytting told him to: "Get them blue Smarties ready, the ones she likes."

The prosecutor said: "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.

"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."

He continued: "It's apparent from the text messages that Miss Pyke viewed Poppy as an inconvenience, who she felt was in the way with regards her relationship with Mr Rytting."

Mr Gordon said the text messages could give an indication of Pyke's attitude towards her daughter.

He said: "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."

A post-mortem examination found bruises on Poppy's body and toxicology tests carried out on her blood and hair found various drugs, the court heard.

Results showed that Poppy had been exposed to and had ingested significant amounts of heroin and methadone in the months prior to her death, the court heard.

Tests on her hair showed that the drugs had been ingested for a period of between two and six months before her death, Mr Gordon said.

The jury heard that the drugs did not contribute to Poppy's death, although the exact cause is not known, but that experts agreed there was a "long period of ill-treatment and neglect by the grossly inappropriate administration of various drugs to the child by the defendants".

The court heard that searches carried out at Rytting's house in Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, found prescription and controlled drugs, some in significant quantities.

Mr Gordon told the jury that Pyke was in the process of moving from her "relatively clean and tidy" home into the "somewhat squalid conditions" of Rytting's house.

The prosecutor said: "It was clear that various types of drug were simply left lying around the house."

Both defendants have pleaded guilty to child cruelty by allowing Poppy to be accommodated in a house where prescribed and controlled drugs were unsecured and within reach of the child.

Pyke has also pleaded guilty to child cruelty by emotional abuse and the court heard that neighbours told police they heard Pyke shouting at Poppy, threatening her and calling her a "little bastard".

In interview, Rytting, 40, told police he had a "budding relationship" with Pyke and regarded himself as Poppy's stepfather, the court heard.

He said he took medication for paranoid schizophrenia, the jury was told.

Mr Gordon said Rytting denied giving Poppy any drugs and said he was "devastated" by her death.

The court heard that Pyke, 37, told police she had known Rytting for about nine months before Poppy's death and said her daughter and boyfriend had a good relationship until Poppy visited her father and her attitude became negative.

She admitted smacking Poppy on occasion and swearing at her when she got angry, the jury heard.

Mr Gordon said Pyke admitted Rytting's house was a "shit-hole" but said she had no knowledge of how drugs came to be in her daughter's system.

Both defendants deny one count of child cruelty by encouraging Poppy to ingest prescription and/or controlled drugs and one count of child cruelty by assault causing bruising.

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

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

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday.