No5 barristers conduct baby murder trial

Christopher Hotten QC prosecutes a mother and her partner, who allegedly killed her toddler months after she had returned from the care of social services.

The toddler, Ayeeshia Jane Smith aged 21 months, died from a laceration to her heart that prosecutors say was likely due to a powerful foot stamp. The court heard that the injury caused a fatal cardiac arrest.

Both the mother, Kathryn Smith, 23, and Matthew Rigby, 22, deny murdering the toddler.

Birmingham Crown Court heard that the authorities feared that the toddler was at risk from one of Smith’s previous partners and that Smith.

Christopher Hotten QC said: “No child, certainly under the age of two, should suffer bruising at the hands of those who should be caring for her. However, that is precisely what we say happened to Ayeeshia in the eight months or so these two people were jointly looking after her. We say there was a consistent pattern of non-accidental bruising that must have happened when one or both were looking after Ayeeshia and about which both must have known.”

It was heard that Smith and Rigby called emergency services in the early hours of May 1, 2014 and told the operator that Ayeeshia was barely breathing. The toddler was declared dead at 5pm at Burton Queen’s Hospital.

Mr Hotten said that a post-mortem examination revealed that she had suffered a fatal wound to her heart and had three broken ribs.

The jury heard, on Tuesday 1st March, that a neighbour had frequently heard arguing and loud noises coming from the couples home, in Burton on Trent. It was heard that PC Jonathan Minshull, of Staffordshire Police, revealed during a visit to the flat he had been told by Smith that Rigby had made threats to kill her and had damaged Ayeeshia’s cot by setting fire to it.