Man jailed over ‘chilling’ murder of two-year-old

A man has been jailed for a minimum of 17 years for the “chilling, terrible and revolting” murder of a two-year-old boy.

Rio Smedley suffered 91 separate injuries and died from a ruptured liver on April 22.

Daniel Rigby, 23, from Tyldesley, Wigan, was yesterday found guilty of murdering the youngster, his girlfriend’s son, and sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum term of 17 years before he can be considered for parole.

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Mr Justice David MacKay told him: “The jury has convicted you of the murder of this little boy. You don’t need me to tell you what a terrible crime that was.”

The judge said Rigby had abused his position of trust and added: “It’s a chilling, terrible picture. He suffered considerably before he died, I am satisfied.”

He said he did not think that Rigby intended to kill Rio but had a “sudden loss of temper” and “set about him, inflicting the fatal blow”.

Rio’s mother, Kirsty Smedley, 24, formerly of Breightmet, Bolton, was found guilty of allowing or causing the death of a child.

The prosecution said she failed to protect her son from Rigby – a man she had previously reported to police for attacking her while pregnant.

Her sentencing was adjourned to a date yet to be fixed and she was remanded in custody.

The jury had taken four hours and 30 minutes to reach the two unanimous guilty verdicts, and as the verdict was read out on the murder charge, there were gasps from the public gallery and some of Rigby’s relatives left the court in tears while he put his head in his hands.

Smedley, dressed all in black and with her dark hair tied back, appeared to be struggling to hold back tears when the jury announced her guilty verdict.

Mr Justice MacKay told her: “I want you to understand that you stand in very real peril of a prison sentence as a result of this conviction. Don’t have any delusions about it.”

The nine-day trial heard that Rigby had “lost his rag” with Rio but he denied ever hurting him and tried to shift the blame for some of his 91 injuries on to Smedley.

Injuries which were said to have happened the day before the toddler’s death, when Rigby took him to see his grandmother and sister, were blamed on his gran’s dog, another two-year-old child, and on Rio falling off a chair.

But Simon Phillips QC, prosecuting, accused Rigby of “trading in lies”and told the court that at around 4.30pm on April 22, this year a neighbour had heard a “thud” from the house, and asked: “Was that noise of you striking Rio with such force as to split his liver in two?”

Rigby had replied: “Never.”

After the sentencing, Detective Constable Pam Chandler read a statement on behalf of Rio’s family.

“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”, they said. “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 only just beginning.

“I don’t like the word hate, but I truly hate that monster for taking our cheeky monkey Rio away from us.”