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Mum accused of murdering daughter 'lived in garage'

Mum accused of murdering daughter 'lived in garage'

A young mother accused of murdering her one-year-old daughter was found living in her father's garage ahead of the birth, a midwife has told a court.

Kathryn Smith, then nearly three months pregnant with Ayeeshia Jane Smith, was sleeping in the "clearly unsuitable" environment in Overseal in Derbyshire but moved into supported accommodation the following day.

Hilary Sayles told the jury at Birmingham Crown Court on Thursday about a visit she made to the address on March 4 2012 to check on Smith's well-being.

The community midwife of 32 years' experience said: "She was in a garage. There was a bed and furniture, but it was clearly unsuitable for a new baby - or anybody."

She referred Smith's case to social services over the housing issues, and concerns about a history of mental health issues and previous substance abuse.

Ms Sayles said: "She said she had been adopted, and I had concerns about her history of self-harm and mental health issues and also the fact she had had substance abuse."

She added: "I didn't know what she'd had in terms of parenting, because she'd been adopted - at what stage I didn't know - but also, as an unplanned pregnancy, whether she would be able to put the needs of her child, before her own."

The following day Smith did move into her own flat in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, the jury were told.

Soon after the birth in July that year, Ms Sayles said she had her last contact with Smith and Ayeeshia and found both doing well.

Ayeeshia, known to social services since birth, was 21 months old when she died from a heart laceration which prosecutors said was caused by a foot stamp at the family home where she collapsed on May 1, 2014.

On April 17, that year, Derbyshire County Council social workers went to the then family home in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, after a report Smith had been "under the influence of a substance".

Care support worker Angela Moseley told the jury that she thought she could smell cannabis in the flat and asked Smith to do an on-the-spot drug test, but the mother refused.

When she got back to the office, she reported what had happened to her manager.

Smith, aged 23, and her partner at the time Matthew Rigby are jointly accused of Ayeeshia's murder, and separately of causing or allowing the death of the toddler and cruelty to a child under 16.

Earlier, jurors heard how in police interviews Rigby claimed he had "never raised a hand" to the little girl and suggested at least some of the child's numerous injuries may have been down to his efforts at CPR.

The 22-year-old changed his account to detectives, first telling how he heard Ayeeshia give "a massive squeal" at the family home, but later describing it as "a little cry".

He also told how the girl's temperature was measured at 32.5C (90.5F)) after she stopped breathing but jurors have already heard that paramedics on the scene within minutes described the youngster as being cold.

In interview, Rigby said that on May 1 he had been outside tidying the garden at the flat in Britannia Drive while Smith was in the kitchen.

When he went back inside, he claimed the child let out a cry so the couple went to her bedroom where the girl lay apparently lifeless in her cot.

As he went into the bedroom, he saw Ayeeshia was "purple", "very pale", and "floppy" when he picked her up.

He carried her into the front room of the home and began CPR, while Smith dialled 999, and shouted to him: "She's dying, Matt".

He described Ayeeshia as an excitable child in others' company, and on one occasion - witnessed by Smith's mother - fell off her plastic potty on to a radiator which, he said, might explain bruising found on the child's back.

During his interview under caution, detectives asked him if he had caused any of the numerous injuries found on the child, including the bruising, several cracked ribs and a ruptured heart.

He replied: "F**k off. How dare you.

"She's not even my child, I've never raised a hand to her."

Asked if Smith might have inflicted the injuries on her daughter, Rigby replied: "I couldn't physically sleep next to a woman capable of that."

Smith, of Sandfield Road, Nottingham and Rigby, of Sloan Drive, Nottingham, deny all the charges and the trial continues.