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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links