Friday, 8 April 2016

Toddler Ayeeshia Jane Smith was found with a catalogue of other injuries after collapsing at home in May 2014.
20:08, UK,Friday 08 April 2016
Ayeeshia Jane Smith
Mother Kathryn Smith has been found guilty of murdering her 21-month-old daughter Ayeeshia Jane Smith.
Ayeeshia, known as AJ, died from a heart laceration and her injuries were said to have been caused by being stamped on at the family home in Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire on 1 May, 2014.
Doctors said it was the type of injury usually only seen in crash victims or in a person who has fallen from a height.
A post-mortem examination showed a catalogue of other injuries the prosecution claimed were deliberately inflicted but apparently went unnoticed by doctors and social services.
The toddler was found to have suffered a bleed on the brain in the months before her death, linked to an incident in February 2014 when she was admitted to hospital after collapsing.
Kathryn Smith and Matthew Rigby
Three weeks before Ayeeshia died, Derbyshire social services had discussed taking the youngster into care over concerns Smith, 23, was a victim of domestic abuse, Birmingham Crown Court heard.
The child's stepfather Matthew Rigby, 22, was also found guilty of causing or allowing her death. However, he was cleared of her murder.
Ayeeshia Jane Smith
In a police interview, Rigby gave his version of what had happened on the day the toddler died.
He said he was outside tidying the garden while Smith was in the kitchen that afternoon.
Ayeeshia had been on the sofa watching TV but had taken herself to bed, which he told detectives was "strange".
After he finished gardening, he said he heard the child cry,  so the couple went to her bedroom where the girl was lying apparently lifeless in her cot.
Rigby said he attempted CPR while Smith dialled 999.
He claimed the child's broken ribs may have been sustained during his attempts to revive her and told police he "never raised a hand" to the child.
Speaking after the verdicts, Detective Inspector Andy Maxfield from Staffordshire Police said Smith and Rigby were "evasive" and "obstructive" at the hospital and told a "catalogue of lies".
The court heard Smith told a health visitor in 2013 that she was a "crap mother". The nurse said the mother was "young and vulnerable".
Ayeeshia had briefly been in foster care but was discharged back to her mother in October 2013.
Wendy Bounds, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "We all recognise the responsibility and duty that rests with parents and those having the care of children to love, protect and nurture them. 
"No child should suffer at the hands of those who should be caring for her; no child should be the victim of broken bones or serious injury caused by violent assault by those caring for her.
"That is precisely what happened to AJ in the eight months or so leading up to her death. 
Ayeeshia Verdict Police Statement
"Today, a measure of justice has been obtained for AJ, but sadly this cannot bring her back and our thoughts go out to her family at this time."
A serious case review will examine "new information" which has emerged from the criminal trial.
Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board's interim chair, Andrew Stokes, said: "All the agencies involved with the family have contributed to a serious case review which has been held to identify any lessons that can be learned.
"New information has emerged during the criminal trial which we need to consider before we can publish the findings of the review to ensure it is as robust and fully informed as possible."