Ayeeshia murder Case: Mother jailed for 24 years

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A “devious” and “selfish” mother has been jailed for at least 24 years for stamping her toddler daughter to death. Kathryn Smith, 23, murdered 21-month-old Ayeeshia Jane Smith during a “savage outburst” in the girl’s bedroom.

Her then partner, Matthew Rigby, 22, was jailed for three years and six months after being found guilty of causing or allowing Ayeeshia’s death.

The judge said her life was “brutally snuffed out” for no apparent reason.

Mrs Justice Geraldine Andrews said it was “a vicious beating in her own bedroom, surrounded by her toys and playthings”.

Ayeeshia collapsed at the flat in Britannia Drive, in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, after suffering a fatal heart laceration – a type of injury usually only found in crash victims.

‘Grossest breach of trust’

But she had suffered many other injuries, including a bleed on the brain, in the months before she was killed.

Both defendants cried in the dock at Birmingham Crown Court as the long list was read out.

Smith claimed throughout the trial Ayeeshia died after a seizure, while Rigby told the court the child’s injuries could have been caused when he gave her CPR.

Sentencing Smith to life, following her conviction for murder, the judge described Ayeeshia, known as AJ, as a frail little girl who was viciously crushed.

The judge said: “Ayeeshia was a particularly vulnerable victim, thin and slight of frame, deserving of protection and under the protection of social services for the whole of her short life.

“She was killed in her own home by her own mother – that is the grossest breach of trust.”

The outburst of savage violence was not an isolated incident and Smith had an “explosive temper”, she said.

Mrs Justice Andrews called Ayeeshia’s mother a “devious, manipulative and selfish young woman”.

She said Smith was “prepared to tell lie after lie” to get her own way, and that Ayeeshia had come “a poor second” during her brief life.

“You wanted to take care of Ayeeshia yourself but not at the expense of running your life, and especially your love life, the way you wanted,” she said.

“The picture you wished to paint of yourself of the down-trodden subservient mother is far from the truth.

“Neither immaturity nor lack of intelligence was a significant factor in the commission of these offences.

“Just a case of venting your anger on a defenceless child.”

She told Rigby he knew Ayeeshia was at risk but turned a blind eye.

“Your failure to act when you could and should have done is something you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life,” she told him.

Ayeeshia was known to social services at Derbyshire County Council all her life, after her pregnant mother was found living in a garage in Overseal before being moved into supported housing in nearby Swadlincote.

Her father, Ricky Booth, said he had “made calls to social services several weeks before AJ died warning them that she was at “serious risk”.

“Someone should be held responsible and accountable within the social services,” said a family statement read by family spokesman Robert Wade.

He said after Ayeeshia’s cremation Smith had taken her ashes from the undertakers.

“We have no idea where the ashes are and we would like them returned so the family can finally lay AJ to rest,” said Mr Wade.

Burton MP Andrew Griffiths has called for a public inquiry into Ayeeshia’s death.

A serious case review is being carried out by the Derbyshire safeguarding children’s board to examine what lessons can be learned from the child’s death.

Smith, had most recently lived at Sandfield Road, Nottingham, and Rigby, at Sloan Drive, Nottingham.

An NSPCC spokesman said: “The people responsible for Ayeeshia’s brutal death have quite rightly been jailed; for many it is incomprehensible that a parent could submit their own flesh and blood to such abuse.

“A serious case review of the circumstances will shine a light on what happened but as with the hundreds of serious case reviews that have come before, it’s doubtful it will really advance child protection.”

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