Little girl 'had only eaten crisps, biscuit and yoghurt on day of death'


A little girl whose mother and stepfather are accused of murder and child cruelty had only eaten a packet of crisps, a chocolate biscuit and a yoghurt the day she died, a court heard.

Ayeeshia Jane Smith died at the family home in Staffordshire in May 2014 after a laceration to her heart believed to have been caused by a forceful foot stamp to her chest, according to prosecutors.

Kathryn Smith and her partner Matthew Rigby are jointly accused of murdering the child, and separately of causing or allowing Ayeeshia's death.

A Birmingham Crown Court jury heard how Smith told police her 21-month-old daughter had "snacked on a yoghurt, a chocolate biscuit, and Quavers" by the afternoon of May 1.

Detective Sergeant James Brady, of Staffordshire Police, who spoke to the 23-year-old at hospital hours after the child's death, added: "I was told she had her last meal the night before at Matthew's grandparents' house in Nottingham."

Recalling a conversation at Burton-upon-Trent's Queen's Hospital, Mr Brady said Smith told him Ayeeshia had suffered three "over-heating fits" since the start of 2014, and that on two of those occasions an ambulance had been called to the home in Britannia Drive, Burton.

She also told him the child suffered from alopecia.

He described the couple as being "extremely emotional" at the time.

Smith then told the officer of an incident three weeks before when the little girl had to be taken to hospital.

Mr Brady told the court: "Mum had told me that the child had bitten her lip in bath approximately three weeks prior (to the death).

"She had slipped in the bath and consequently she was taken to Queen's Hospital and then sent home."

On the day of the child's death, the officer said Smith told him she had left Ayeeshia on the potty and went to the kitchen, while 22-year-old Rigby was outside in the garden.

Mr Brady said: "Mum went into the kitchen to get some juice and returning back then found the child with blue lips, and fitting."

He was asked by Christopher Hotten QC, prosecuting, if Smith had presented the fits as being similar to those the child had suffered previously.

The detective replied: "Yes, it was described as the same as before, implying it was the same as the previous fits."

Earlier the jury heard Ayeeshia was measured and found to be in the second percentile of weight category for a child of her age with a medical expert describing her as "thin".

Dr Tamas Marton, a consultant paediatric pathologist, said: "Ayeeshia was a thin child."

He added: "Out of 100 children, 98 would be heavier for children of the same age and build."

Dr Marton also observed: "There was hardly any subcutaneous tissue."

A post-mortem found the toddler had suffered a bleed on the brain in the months before her death, linked to an incident in which Ayeeshia was hospitalised after collapsing in February 2014.

During the examination, further injuries were also discovered including a large bruise to her back and buttocks, bruising to her neck, head, left eyelid and left leg.

Jurors have previously heard the toddler was taken into care by social services in May 2013 following concerns for her welfare, but had been returned to her mother's care in October that year.

Smith, of Sandfield Road, and Rigby, of Sloan Drive, both Nottingham, also deny cruelty to a child under 16, and the trial continues.