Published: 12:00, 09 August 2017
A woman falsely accused of harming a baby when his evil mother and boyfriend attempted to pin his injuries on her has spoken out.
Emma Letford, was speaking out after after mum-of-nine Katherine Cox and Danny Shepherd were found guilty of causing the death of her baby Eli from a 'catastrophic' brain injury.
Ms Letford, a cousin of Shepherd’s, became a close friend of Cox, often helping her with household chores and child care.
She found herself having to defend claims she was involved in the youngster’s tragic death after she was arrested.
It was to be six months before the allegations against her were dropped.
In court, Shepherd tried to shift the blame on Ms Letford, by saying he had been concerned about “rough handling” of Eli by Ms Letford.
He said Eli had stayed with her for the night on Sunday, April 10, and she had made over 20 calls the next day asking for him to be collected.
“For some reason she wanted him gone on Monday morning, which is unusual,” said Shepherd.
He said after collecting him he kept being sick and waking up.
In a police interview, under pressure to suggest how Eli sustained his brain injury, the 25-year-old said: “It must have happened at Emma’s.
“She can just have a really good drink and get a bit mouthy.
Video: Emma Letford speaks out after Cox and Shepherd were sentenced
“We both, we both reckon it’s happened at Emma’s cos she was rushing to get us to get the baby.”
Speaking after the verdict, Ms Letford, of Sheerness, said she had never been so hurt, until she heard the lies about her.
The 38-year-old said: “I would never have harmed a hair on that baby’s head and if I had any inkling he had a single injury I would never have given him back.
“I would have kept him and I would have been onto the social and had the rest of her children too. I love them all to bits.”
She added: “To hear all the lies said about me has hurt me. It makes me feel angry they tried to blame me for all of this. It’s made me realise you cannot trust anyone.”
Ms Letford said she first met Cox three years ago, before she was in a relationship with Shepherd, known as Pickle, and she had felt sorry for her because she was finding it hard to cope with her children.
Cox, from Maidstone, moved to Sheppey about 12 years ago. She met Pickle in the summer of 2015 after she attended a family barbecue with Ms Letford.
“I tried to help her and be there for her. I did all her washing and ironing, helped tidy the house, clear it out and look after the children to give her a hand,” Ms Letford said.
“It breaks my heart what has happened.”
Ms Letford was arrested on suspicion of causing or allowing baby Eli’s death two days after his collapse, but was later released without charge in October, a situation she described as ‘unbelievable.’
“I was never around when any of the abuse happened,” she added.
She added: “Before the trial, I would never have thought either of them could be capable of doing something like this.
“But having heard all the evidence, the lies after lies coming out of their mouths, and the fact they have not shed a tear for that beautiful baby, I’m happy they’ve been found guilty.
“They have got to live with what they done.”
She described it as justice for Eli and said she will try and pick up her life and try to move on.
“I have been destroyed over all of this. I have lost everything: friends; my home; I’ve had people judging me – my life has been destroyed. I wish I’d never met them.
“I hate the fact they dragged me into this. That they could put blame on someone and destroy somebody else’s life.
"I can’t forgive – I hope they go to prison for a very long time. They should not walk from prison to be able to start a new life" - Emma Letford
"I can’t forgive – I hope they go to prison for a very long time. They should not walk from prison to be able to start a new life. It should be life for a life – they need locking up for good.”
When describing baby Eli, Ms Letford said: “He was adorable, amazing, beautiful, cute, and his little chuckle just made me melt.”
She exclusively released a video of her with Eli, encouraging him to laugh and smile and showing her love for him.
It was taken in February, just two months before the youngster died. It can be viewed here.
“I miss his face and his smile,” Ms Letford added. “RIP little man.”
See a special report in this week's Sheerness Times Guardian.
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