Rio Smedley murder: Daniel Rigby jailed for killing toddler

A man has been jailed for life for murdering his girlfriend's two-year-old son in an "extremely violent attack" at his home in Greater Manchester.

Daniel Rigby, 23, was told he would serve at least 17 years for the murder of Rio Smedley.

Manchester Crown Court heard Rio had 91 injuries, likely to have been caused by "punches, kicks, knees and stamping".

Rio's mother Kirsty Smedley, 24, was found guilty of allowing or causing the death of a child.

'Quite revolting'

She is due to be sentenced at a later date.

Image caption Daniel Rigby carried out a "brutal attack" on the toddler

Mr Justice David MacKay told Rigby: "You abused [Rio's] 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."

Smedley called 999 on 22 April and reported Rio was not moving.

She told the emergency services he had "fallen down four steps and banged his head" at their home in Cheriton Drive, Breightmet, in Bolton.

The boy was taken to the Royal Bolton Hospital but later died of a ruptured liver.

During the trial a medical expert testified the injuries could not have been caused by a fall and the prosecution accused Rigby of "striking Rio with such force as to split his liver in two" during a "sustained and violent attack".

Rigby had 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.

He had claimed his grandmother Doreen Rigby's dogs caused the toddler to fall off a chair and bang his head the day before he died, but Mrs Rigby denied Rio was injured during the visit to her house in Tyldesley, Wigan.

Image caption Daniel Rigby had tried to blame Rio Smedley's injuries on his grandmother's dogs

A post-mortem examination revealed Rio died from the ruptured liver and had 91 separate marks of injury on his body.

Rigby 'a monster'

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

Rigby was arrested over Smedley's allegations of assault on 21 March and made the subject to bail conditions which prevented him from contacting her.

But on 3 April she withdrew her complaint against him and on 20 April - two days before the murder - Rigby was told by police that no further action would be taken against him.

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

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

Jan Urey, Senior Crown Prosecutor, said: "This was a wicked attack against a vulnerable and defenceless child.

"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."

Rio's family said in a statement: "We have to live every day without Rio and for the rest of our lives we will never see him grow into a lovely young man.

"No matter how long that monster gets, he will still have a life.

"We wish we could say that we could start to rebuild our lives, but the hard work is just beginning."

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