‘Manipulative’ mum jailed for child’s murder

A “devious, manipulative and selfish” young mother will serve at least 24 years behind bars after brutally stamping her toddler daughter to death in the child’s bedroom.

Kathryn Smith, 23, was jailed for life following her conviction for murder after the savage attack on 21-month-old Ayeeshia Jane Smith at the family home in Staffordshire on May 1, 2014.

Mrs Justice Geraldine Andrews, sentencing a weeping Smith at Birmingham Crown Court, said: “You are a devious, manipulative, selfish, young woman who would stop at nothing to get your own way.

“To that end you were prepared to tell lie after lie.”

The judge added: “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 judge jailed Ayeeshia’s stepfather, 22-year-old Matthew Rigby, for three years and six months after he was convicted of causing or allowing the death of a child.

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

It emerged after the toddler’s death that what the judge described as a “delightful little girl” had previously suffered a bleed on the brain from an assault at her mother’s hands in February 2014, and a pattern of recent injuries including a huge bruise on her spine. 

Ayeeshia was taken into care for a period in mid-2013. 

She also had several broken ribs, and other marks and abrasions on her fragile body.

Smith, of Sandfield Road, Nottingham, who cried in the court dock throughout sentencing, and Rigby, of Sloan Drive, Nottingham, had denied having anything to do with the youngster’s death, but were convicted by a jury on Friday.

Mrs Justice Andrews told Smith: “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.”

As the young mother, wearing a grey sweater hoodie and with her dyed red hair pulled into a ponytail, gazed out from the dock, the judge told her Ayeeshia had come “a poor second” in her brief life.


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