MP warns against internal inquiry into death of tragic toddler Ayeeshia


An MP has called for a "very open investigation" into the death of tragic toddler Ayeeshia Jane Smith who was stamped to death by her mother.

Kathryn Smith, 23, was convicted of murdering the "happy and smiley" 21-month-old at the family home in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire on Friday.

Ayeeshia, known as AJ, suffered a fatal collapse at home just over three weeks after Derbyshire County Council social services discussed taking the youngster into care over fears Smith was a victim of domestic abuse.

A serious case review has been launched by the Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board to look at health and social services' involvement in the lead-up to the child's collapse in May 2014.

However, Burton MP Andrew Griffiths said he believes the case should not be investigated internally.

He told the BBC: "Such a shocking and brutal death that raises so many questions about how social workers operate should not be placed in the hands of the local authority to investigate itself."

During an interview on BBC radio, he drew parallels between this case and those of Victoria Climbie and Baby P.

He said: "There appears to be a real failure of clarity and judgment on behalf of Derbyshire social services here and I think that's what we need to focus on. 

"We need to work out why this child wasn't saved and why her life was lost needlessly and pointlessly."

The trial at Birmingham Crown Court heard Ayeeshia died from a fatal heart laceration most likely caused by a foot stamp and the sort of injury doctors only usually see in crash victims.

Kathryn Smith wept as she was found guilty of murder on Friday, while her 22-year-old former partner Matthew Rigby was found guilty of causing or allowing her death but cleared of murder.

Both will be sentenced on Monday.

In a statement following the convictions, Andrew Stokes, interim chairman of the safeguarding board, said: "The death of a child is a tragedy and I'd like to express my deepest sympathies to everyone who knew AJ.

"All the agencies involved with the family have contributed to a serious case review which has been held to identify any lessons that can be learned.

"New information has emerged during the criminal trial which we need to consider before we can publish the findings of the review to ensure it is as robust and fully informed as possible.

"It is important that we take the time to look at this thoroughly to ensure we maintain the highest possible standards to safeguard children and young people across Derbyshire."