Claire Boyle and Timothy Johnstone outside Kilmarnock Sheriff Court (Image: Daily Record)

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A woman who caged a toddler has claimed that delivering her newborn baby via C-section left her unable to carry out her punishment.

Claire Boyle, 34, was ordered to complete 250 hours of unpaid work for caging and starving a four-year-old.

She was also ordered to be supervised by social workers for 18 months as part of a Community Payback Order.

But during a review hearing at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court, the child abuser claimed she was unable to climb into the van which takes offenders to their unpaid work because she has a "bad nerve" in her back, reports the Daily Record.

Boyle attended court without a lawyer yesterday as the solicitor who conducted her trial no longer represents her.

Boyle claimed she was unable to do her punishment
(Image: Daily Record)

Sheriff Michael Higgins then told her to return on another date with a new lawyer, saying he was "concerned" by her progress, and adding: "You'll appreciate this is a very serious matter.

"The sentence was a direct alternative to a custodial sentence and I explained that to you clearly at the time."

Boyle said: "I've actually done quite a few hours. I've got a bad nerve in my back.

"I've just had a cesarean, not even a year ago. It wasn't that I didn't want to do the work, it was climbing up into the van that was hurting my back."

As he postponed Boyle's review hearing, Sheriff Higgins said: "There are concerning matters within the report, specifically in regards your engagement with social workers, and your behaviour with social workers in that engagement."

Boyle attended court without a lawyer
(Image: Daily Record)

Boyle and her boyfriend, Timothy Johnstone, 57, denied child neglect but were found guilty following a lengthy trial.

The neglect came to light after the older boy who was covered in bruises, escaped from their flat in Newmilns, East Ayrshire, through a window and was found wandering the streets in the rain on October 3, 2018.

Doctors who took care of him in hospital thought he had blood cancer or a blood clotting disorder due to the numerous bruises on his skin.

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Officers then attended Boyle's flat and found a two-year-old boy being kept in a homemade cage.

Yesterday, Sheriff Higgins praised Johnstone for his "positive" CPO progress, saying he was engaging well with his unpaid work and supervision.

Boyle was allowed to look after the kids despite two previous convictions for child neglect.

In 2014 she was found comatose on a couch, through drink or drugs, with a distressed baby at her feet.

In 2015 she was caught trying to sell a baby for £1million on a Scots high street – and shaking the little boy, shouting at him and abandoning him in a “damp and draughty” close.

A significant case review into the Social Work Department's handling of the case is being carried out by South Ayrshire Council and East Ayrshire Council.