Ayeeshia Jane Smith: Stepfather denies hurting toddler

Kathryn Smith and Matthew Rigby
Image caption Kathryn Smith and Matthew Rigby deny murdering Ayeeshia Jane Smith

A stepfather accused of stamping a toddler to death has told a jury he did not hurt her and said her mother must have been responsible for her death.

Matthew Rigby, 22, denies murdering Ayeeshia Jane Smith at their home in Staffordshire in May 2014.

Ayeeshia's mother, Kathryn Smith, also denies murder.

The girl had a heart injury usually seen in people who have fallen off buildings or been in a car crash, Birmingham Crown Court has heard.

Mr Rigby denied inflicting any injuries on the girl after being accused by Ms Smith's barrister of taking out his frustrations over the couple's dysfunctional relationship on the child.

When asked why he had changed his story Mr Rigby, from Nottingham, said his former partner, 23-year-old Ms Smith, had told him what to say to police.

He initially told detectives he had seen Ayeeshia, known as AJ, "on the potty" in her room as Ms Smith went to get some juice for the girl.

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

But in court on Tuesday he said he was not present while the child went to the toilet.

Ms Smith's barrister, John Butterfield QC, asked him why would he have lied.

"At that point I didn't think there was any foul play with Ayeeshia," he replied.

"At that point, I had no reason to doubt what Kathryn had said."

But Mr Butterfield QC said: "You've backed away because you know you got up to no good in that bedroom at that time."

Mr Rigby responded: "That's wrong, that's really wrong."

The court heard Mr Rigby describe AJ as a "lovely little girl" who had had a positive impact on his life.

But he admitted his relationship with her mother was volatile, with police often being called to their flat in Burton upon Trent.

On one occasion when AJ apparently needed hospital treatment, Mr Rigby told the court Ms Smith, also from Nottingham, had disappeared from their flat to buy cannabis.

The trial continues.

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