Wednesday, August 10

Mother claimed benefits for her daughter for nearly six months after her death



A mother accused of stamping her infant daughter to death continued to claim child benefits for her for six months after her death, a court has heard. Kathryn Smith, 23, is currently on trial alongside her former boyfriend Matthew Rigby accused of murdering 21-month-old Ayeeshia Jane Smith.

A jury has heard how Ayeeshia died from a rip to the heart which was caused by either by a powerful foot stamp or from being violently shaken which caused a fatal heart attack.

Doctors said the little girl – who had also bitten through her own tongue – was so severely injured she looked like a car crash victim. Kathryn Smith and Matthew Rigby (pictured) are accused of killing the 21-month-old girl and separately of causing or allowing her death

Smith, who denies murder, told Birmingham Crown Court she had claimed child benefit for her daughter nearly six months after Ayeeshia’s death in May 2014. She said she contacted the Department of Work and Pensions to inform them about her change in circumstances in October 2014.

Smith still did not inform them about the child’s death – instead she said her claim was transferring to her mother. When asked why she had concocted the story by her defence barrister John Butterfield QC she said: “I didn’t want to get into the conversation about my daughter dying.

“I didn’t want to admit she had gone.”

She said she did not “deliberately” try to get benefits she was not entitled to and no money was ever paid to her mother. Smith said Rigby had joined her in the kitchen “a couple of moments” after she left him in the bedroom with her daughter before hearing the child “gasp”.

She said they had both rushed into the room to see her lying on her side in her cot, pale, lips bubbling and staring out of the window. The couple attempted to revive the girl and Smith dialled 999 within three minutes but nothing could be done to save her in hospital.

She also said she overreacted when asked to explain why she retracted a statement she had made to the police a month before Ayeeshia’s death where she said she was scared of Rigby and did not want him near her or her daughter as he couldn’t control his temper.

The trial continues.