Mother who stamped toddler daughter to death has sentence for murder reduced by five years

Ayeeshia Smith died at 21 months of injuries usually associated with car crash victims

Kathryn Smith outside Birmingham Crown Court where she was found guilty of murder last year
Kathryn Smith outside Birmingham Crown Court where she was found guilty of murder last year

A mother who stamped her toddler daughter to death has had her minimum sentence reduced by five years after an appeal.

Kathryn Smith was told she would have to serve a minimum of 24 years in prison after she was found guilty of one count of murder and one count of child cruelty at Birmingham Crown Court last April.

Her 21-month-old daughter, Ayeeshia Jane Smith, died at their home in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, in May 2014 after suffering a fatal heart laceration – a type of injury usually only found in car crash victims.

It emerged that she had previously suffered a bleed on the brain after another assault by her mother. A pattern of injuries sustained shortly before her death included a huge bruise on her spine.

​Ayeeshia, who was taken into care for a period in mid-2013, also had several broken ribs and other marks and abrasions on her body.

Sentencing Smith at Birmingham Crown Court in April 2016, Mrs Justice Andrews called her a “devious, manipulative, selfish, young woman who would stop at nothing to get your own way”.

She 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.”

Matthew Rigby, Smith’s then boyfriend, was also found guilty of causing or allowing her death, but was cleared of murder. He is currently serving a three-year sentence.

Smith has always denied murder and launched an appeal against her conviction last December.

The 24-year-old’s case was dismissed at London’s Court of Appeal by a three judge panel, headed by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas.

Lord Thomas said that the judge’s summing up was “both thorough and fair” and there was “ample” evidence on which the jury could have reached the verdicts they did.

Reducing the minimum term from 24 years to 19 years, he said that the original sentence did not properly reflect the circumstances of the murder, previous conduct, the other offences of which Smith was convicted and the mitigating factors such as her lack of previous offending.

Lord Thomas added that they accepted the defence’s case that too much weight had been put on the aggravating features of the case and not enough on her youth, immaturity, vulnerability and lack of intent to kill.

Additional reporting by PA

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