Ayeeshia Jane Smith: Murder accused mum 'spent benefits on cannabis habit'

Kathryn Smith and Matthew Rigby
Image caption Kathryn Smith spent £30 a week on cannabis, a court was told, which was allegedly paid for through her child benefits

A woman accused of fatally stamping on her daughter used the money she received in benefits to fund her cannabis habit, a court heard.

Kathryn Smith said she received £52 a week in income support, some of which was used to buy the Class B substance.

Jurors previously heard she was concerned 21-month-old Ayeeshia Jane Smith may have had a seizure after taking drugs kept at the house.

Ms Smith and ex-partner Matthew Rigby both deny murder.

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The toddler, known as AJ, died in 2014 at the couple's flat in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire.

Under questioning from prosecutors, Ms Smith, 23, said she did not initially tell doctors treating Ayeeshia over her fears she had accessed drugs because she feared they would think she was "a bad mother".

She also said she did not tell police about the drugs being at home because she knew they were illegal.

A quantity of cannabis worth £30 was found inside a Tommee Tippee plastic cup at the property on Britannia Drive after Ayeeshia's death but Ms Smith said her daughter did not use the cup as it was broken.

Image caption Ayeeshia Jane Smith was 21 months old when she died in May 2014

The court heard a senior social worker had reported seeing Ms Smith, of Sandfield Road, Nottingham, looking "spaced out" during a home visit a week prior to Ayeeshia's collapse, although her daughter had not been in the house at the time.

Two social workers had tried to conduct an on-the-spot drugs search at the flat on 17 April 2014, days before Ayeeshia died, after smelling cannabis, but Ms Smith refused to comply.

Text messages made by Ms Smith to Mr Rigby and her parents were mentioned by the prosecution, including one where she threatened her father on the day Ayeeshia died.

Christopher Hotten QC, prosecuting, said the message showed her in a bad temper "on the day somebody killed your daughter in anger".

However, Ms Smith said: "Nobody was angry on that day, or the day before that, nobody was being angry that day."

Jurors at Birmingham Crown Court previously heard her death was caused when her heart was torn by a forceful stamp.

Medical experts said the injuries were normally only seen in car crash victims or people who have fallen off buildings.

The trial continues.

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