Boyfriend guilty of beating two-year-old to death

 

A man was found guilty today of beating a two-year-old child to death in a “wicked attack”.

Rio Smedley had 91 separate injuries on his body and died from a ruptured liver, a trial at Manchester Crown Court heard.

Daniel Rigby, 23, from Tyldesley, Wigan, was found guilty of murdering his girlfriend's son by a jury of six men and six women.

Rigby was given a life sentence and ordered to serve a minimum term of 17 years before he is considered for parole.

Rio's mother Kirsty Smedley, 24, formerly of Cheriton Drive, Breightmet, Bolton, was also found guilty of allowing or causing the death of a child.

The prosecution said she failed to protect her son from Rigby - a man she had previously reported to police for violently attacking her while she was pregnant.

Rio was murdered by Rigby on April 22 in what the prosecution said was "a wicked attack on a defenceless two-year-old child".

Mr Justice David MacKay told Rigby: "The jury has convicted you of the murder of this little boy. You don't need me to tell you what a terrible crime that was."

The judge said Rigby had abused his position of trust.

He went on: "You abused that trust by punishing him physically in quite a revolting way.

"It's a chilling, terrible picture. He suffered considerably before he died, I am satisfied. He was a vulnerable boy. You abused your trust."

The judge said he did not think Rigby intended to kill Rio but had a "sudden loss of temper" and "set about him, inflicting the fatal blow".

The jury took four hours and 30 minutes to reach the two unanimous guilty verdicts.

As the guilty verdict was read out on the murder charge, there were gasps from the public gallery and some of Rigby's relatives left the court in tears.

Rigby, dressed in a grey suit, shirt and tie, put his head in his hands as the verdict was given.

Smedley, dressed all in black and with her dark hair tied back, appeared to be struggling to hold back tears when the jury announced her guilty verdict.

Mr Justice MacKay adjourned Smedley's sentencing to a date yet to be fixed for the preparation of a pre-sentence report, and remanded her into custody.

He told her: "I want you to understand that you stand in very real peril of a prison sentence as a result of this conviction. Don't have any delusions about it."

Earlier, the nine-day trial heard that Rigby had "lost his rag" with Rio.

As he was cross-examined, Rigby denied ever hurting the toddler and tried to shift the blame for some of his 91 injuries on to Smedley.

But Mr Phillips accused Rigby of "trading in lies" and said he did not care about the little boy or what happened to him.

Mr Phillips said that at around 4.30pm on April 22 this year a neighbour heard a "thud" from the Cheriton Drive house.

Mr Phillips asked: "Was that noise you striking Rio with such force as to split his liver in two?"

Rigby replied: "Never."

Mr Phillips said a pathologist had given evidence to the jury to say that Rio's ruptured liver could not have been caused by a fall down the stairs, but more likely by punches, kicks and stamping.

Rigby could not explain where the 91 injuries found on Rio's body had come from and denied "losing his rag" with the toddler because he was having to look after him instead of going to his sister's house to smoke cannabis and because Smedley had failed to get him some money from her grandparents.

The court was also shown CCTV footage of Rio and Rigby getting on a bus from Bolton to Tyldesley and holding hands as they got off the bus.

The footage was taken on the day before the murder when Rigby took Rio to see his grandmother and his sister.

The prosecution said Rigby must have inflicted some of the 91 injuries over the course of that day - injuries which he later blamed on his grandmother's dog, another two-year-old child and on Rio falling off a chair.

The prosecution say Rio's fatal injury was the "culmination of a course of ill-treatment and violent conduct towards the child".

Mr Phillips said Smedley "failed to take steps to ensure the safety of the child" and "she did nothing to prevent Rio being exposed to the risk of harm from Daniel Rigby" in that she would leave him in his unsupervised care.

Rigby was arrested on March 21 after assaulting Smedley and made subject to bail conditions which prevented him from contacting her.

On April 3, she withdrew her complaint against him and on April 20 - just two days before the murder - Rigby was told by police that no further action would be taken against him and he went straight back to Smedley.

The court heard that during Rio's final weekend alive, Smedley left Rigby in sole charge of Rio for long periods on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday and that Rigby had been sending her numerous "impatient" text messages regarding the child.

Jan Urey, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "This was a wicked attack against a vulnerable and defenceless child, perpetrated by Daniel Rigby.

"The injuries suffered by Rio were brutal and could not have been inflicted accidentally, as Rigby had claimed in an attempt to hide what he had done.

"Today, a jury has decided that Rigby caused Rio's death and that Kirsty Smedley betrayed her responsibility to keep her child safe from Rigby's violence."

PA

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