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Summary

  1. Updates on Friday 8 April 2016
  2. News, sport, travel and weather updates to resume at 08:00 on Monday

Live Reporting

By Allen Cook

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Our live coverage across the day

Live updates for Staffordshire and Cheshire have finished for the day but we'll be back from 08:00 Friday with the latest news, sport, travel and weather.

Social services asked Smith not to see Rigby

Birmingham Crown Court heard social services carried out five planned and unannounced visits in the month leading up to the toddler's death.

The jury was also told there had been reports Rigby had threatened to burn down the family flat, although Smith later claimed "police got it wrong".

Rather than initiate care proceedings again, Derbyshire County Council asked Smith to sign a voluntary agreement not to see Rigby - however, she refused.

Kathryn Smith and Matthew Rigby
Staffordshire Police

A social worker visited on 17 April 17, reporting that Smith had refused an on-the-spot drugs test, despite a smell of cannabis at the flat.  

Tonight on Midlands Today: Mother convicted of Ayeeshia Smith's murder

Peter Wilson

BBC Midlands Today Special Correspondent

I've been at Birmingham Crown Court today as a mother has been found guilty of murdering her 21-month-old daughter in Burton. 

Kathryn Smith, 23, was also convicted of cruelty to a child after Ayeeshia Jane Smith's death in 2014.

Ayeeshia showing injuries she suffered
BBC

Her ex-partner Matthew Rigby, 22, was cleared of murder but convicted of causing or allowing the child's death. 

I'll have a full report and look at what social services are doing now on Midlands Today from 18:30 on BBC One.  

Ayeeshia Jane Smith: Comparisons made to Baby Peter case

Peter Wilson

BBC Midlands Today Special Correspondent

Some children's charities are already comparing Ayeeshia Jane Smith's death with the notorious Baby Peter case (pictured).  

There was a pattern of non-accidental injuries stretching back to the time Ayeeshia was returned to the care of her mother, the court heard. 

She had thrived while in foster care, but was malnourished and at the bottom of the child weight charts by the time of her death.  

Peter Connelly
ITV News

In hindsight, professionals seem to have missed a number of red-flag moments that should have alerted them to step in.

A serious case review by Derbyshire County Council is under way and it won't be known until its publication what mistakes, if any, were made.  

Ayeeshia Smith's father 'let down' by system

Burton Mail

Ayeeshia Smith's dad told Birmingham Crown Court he felt "let down by the system" following the murder of his daughter.

Ayeeshia Jane Smith: Mother told court she was a 'good mum'

Rebecca Woods

BBC News Online, Journalist

In Matthew Rigby's attempts to give the impression of blissful family life, he described Ayeeshia in court as a "lovely little girl" who had had a positive impact on his life. 

And Kathryn Smith insisted she was a "good mum", adding "I love AJ - I look after her."

But the detailed evidence of brutality towards the little girl convinced the jury otherwise, as they convicted the mother of murdering her daughter and Rigby of allowing it to happen.  

Ayeeshia Jane Smith: Mother and stepfather 'in it together'

Rebecca Woods

BBC News Online, Journalist

Birmingham Crown Court was told Kathryn Smith routinely put her own needs above those of her little daughter, freely having relationships with violent men and putting Ayeeshia at serious risk. 

She even defended them when police and social services tried to intervene.  

The home in Britannia Drive, Burton-upon-Trent
BBC

Ayeeshia's mother insisted she had nothing to do with the girl's death. But the prosecution told the court she "knew what was going on" because the flat she shared with Rigby was so small and "she watched her like a hawk".

"They were in it together. Neither was prepared to save Ayeeshia from her fate," the prosecutor said.

Ayeeshia Jane Smith: Toddler 'suffered greatly during her short life'

Rebecca Woods

BBC News Online, Journalist

For 16 weeks of her short life, Ayeeshia Jane Smith thrived in the care of a foster family. But within months of being returned to her mother she was dead after suffering a catalogue of injuries likened to a car crash.  

"We're a family. Families stick together," Matthew Rigby confidently told police officers as he tried to cover up how his partner's 21-month-old daughter met her violent death.  

Ayeeshia Jane Smith
SWNS

The reality could not have been more different. Ayeeshia, known as AJ, suffered greatly during her short life, before dying at the hands of her mother Kathryn Smith, aided by her violent boyfriend.

Sixteen separate injuries were found on the toddler's body. But it was a tear to her heart - probably caused by a stamp - that finally killed her on 1 May, 2014.

Ayeeshia Jane Smith: 999 call by mother and stepfather

Tom Warren

BBC Local Live

A 999 call made by Ayeeshia's mother and her partner has been released following the court case.

In it, emergency call handlers direct the pair as  they claim to make attempts to save the toddler following her collapse.

Ayeeshia Jane Smith: Mother had 'history of troubled relationships'

BBC Radio Stoke

Jurors in the trial heard how Kathryn Smith had a history of troubled relationships.

Concerns were raised in 2012 by social services about Smith's relationship with a man over domestic violence allegations and the impact that could have on Ayeeshia.

Smith then began a relationship with former electrician Matthew Rigby, but the jury also heard evidence of their turbulent relationship. 

In January 2014, there were reports of domestic incidents between Smith and Rigby, and a child protection medical was carried out on Ayeeshia after cuts to her chin and lip were seen, and a bald patch appeared on her head. 

Watch: Ayeeshia Jane Smith - murdered toddler's injuries 'horrifying'

BBC News UK

Det Insp Andy Maxfield of Staffordshire Police has spoken to reporters about the ''heartbreaking'' injuries suffered by Ayeeshia Jane Smith, after her mother was found guilty of her murder.  

Ayeeshia Jane Smith: Toddler's ashes to be given to her father

Peter Wilson

BBC Midlands Today Special Correspondent

Matthew Rigby and Kathryn Smith had been in a relationship right up until the start of the trial. 

Smith gave a silver-coloured locket containing Ayeeshia's ashes to Rigby while at court. I understand he will give it to the baby's natural father.

Ayeeshia Jane Smith: Social services were aware of her from birth

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

The trial at Birmingham Crown Court heard social services were aware of Ayeeshia since her birth in July 2012. 

Two child protection conferences were held in 2012 and the toddler was taken into care for a period by social services in mid-2013, being returned to her mother in October of that year. 

Less than a month before her death, Derbyshire County Council social services had discussed taking the toddler into care, but instead offered Smith advice and support over fears she was a victim of a domestic abuse.

Ayeeshia stayed with her mother, but at a safeguarding meeting the day before the her death it was agreed a domestic abuse professional would visit.  

Ayeeshia Jane Smith: Cannabis was kept in toddler's cup

Peter Wilson

BBC Midlands Today Special Correspondent

Kathryn Smith is a regular cannabis user, the court was told, keeping her drugs in Ayeeshia's cup.

Cup
BBC

Ayeeshia Jane Smith: Toddler's injuries go unnoticed

In the months leading up to the death of 21-month-old Ayeeshia Jane Smith, several injuries went unnoticed.

3 February 2014: 

- Ayeeshia is admitted to Queen's Hospital in Burton after collapsing at home, diagnosed by doctors at the time as a "febrile fit". 

- A consultant paediatrician later told the jury this had all the hallmarks of an "apparent life-threatening event", which - if spotted - would have triggered a rigorous examination of the child's under-lying health. 

23 April:

- Smith takes her daughter to the child's health clinic for her two-year weight check, where the toddler measures 20lbs (9.14kg). However weight loss is over-looked because the health visitor does not have access to previous records.

1 May:

 - A 999 call is made by Smith and Rigby following Ayeeshia's collapse at home. She is admitted to A&E at Burton hospital but dies. In all, pathologists later detect 16 separate injuries, some historical.

Watch: Man jailed after train hit car on level crossing

Jennifer Meierhans

BBC News Online

A man's been jailed after a train hit a car at a level crossing near Burton-upon-Trent.

British Transport said Jonathan Mather had driven his car on to the railway line at Clay Mills Crossing in July 2015, driving down the track and then abandoning it. 

A CrossCountry passenger service carrying more than 40 people struck the empty car but was not derailed. Three people on board the train were treated for back pain.

Mather, 36, of Pearl Close, Derby, pleaded guilty to endangering safety by obstructing the railway and breaching a suspended sentence - he was sentenced to a total of five years and eight months in jail.

Ayeeshia Jane Smith: Jurors in trial excused future jury service

After the verdicts were returned, the judge, Mrs Justice Geraldine Andrews, told jurors they would be excused from future jury service because of the upsetting nature of the evidence they had heard.  

Ayeeshia Jane Smith: Father calls murder 'pure evil'

Peter Wilson

BBC Midlands Today Special Correspondent

Ayeeshia Jane Smith's natural father Ricky Booth has described her murder as "pure evil".

He's also said he is very angry and wishes she had been taken into care.

Kathryn Smith and Matthew Rigby
PA

In a statement, Derbyshire County Council say all the agencies involved with Ayeeshia's family have contributed to a serious case review. 

They say new information from the trial will now be considered before they can publish the findings of the review. 

Ayeeshia Jane Smith: Mum had claimed toddler suffered seizure

Rebecca Woods

BBC News Online, Journalist

Kathryn Smith had claimed her 21-month-old daughter Ayeeshia suffered a seizure before her death and suggested her bruised body was caused by falling off her potty.

Pathologists found 16 separate injuries on her body, including a historical bleed on the brain. They ruled she died from a tear to a heart which was likely to have been caused by a "stamp".  

Ayeeshia Jane Smith
Family handout

Her ex-partner Matthew Rigby - who was cleared of murder but convicted of causing or allowing the child's death - had told Birmingham Crown Court it was possible the child's injuries were caused when he gave her CPR while on the phone to 999 operators.

The pair had repeatedly protested their innocence at Birmingham Crown Court. They will be sentenced at the same court on Monday.

News: Mum guilty of murder daughter; strangled toddler parents want others to check homes; man jailed for level crossing crash

Chris King

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

The top stories for Staffordshire and Cheshire this afternoon include:

- A mother has been found guilty of murdering her 21-month-old daughter who died in Staffordshire with injuries likened to a car crash victim

- The Staffordshire parents of a toddler who died after becoming tangled in the cord of a window blind say her death mustn't be in vain

- A man's been jailed after a train hit a car at a level crossing near Burton-upon-Trent

BreakingAyeeshia mother guilty of murder

The mother of toddler Ayeeshia Smith has been found guilty of her murder.

The 21-month-old died in May 2014 and the jury at Birmingham Crown Court heard she had suffered injuries similar to a car crash.

Kathryn Smith, 23, and her former partner 22-year-old Matthew Rigby had both blamed each other for the little girl's death.

Football: Crewe set for 'lowest ever following' for a Port Vale derby

Graham McGarry

Crewe Alexandra commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

BBC Radio Stoke understands that Crewe Alexandra fans are boycotting the derby game at Port Vale on Saturday.

Vale Park
Getty Images

It's looking likely that the Alex will have one of the lowest-ever followings for a derby with the Vale with ticket sales currently just over the 200 mark. 

The away following last season saw 1,300 fans make the journey down the A500 in January.

However, knowing that defeat or even a draw could see them relegated to League Two come 17:00 tomorrow, the travelling support will be well down on recent years.

Cheshire PCC candidates

Here are the candidates standing in Cheshire, again in alphabetical order:

- John Dwyer (Conservative) 

- David Keane (Labour) 

- Neil Lewis (Liberal Democrat) 

- Jonathan Starkey (UKIP)     

 More information available on the Choose my PCC website.    

Police and Crime Commissioner Election 2016: Staffordshire

James Bovill

Political reporter, BBC Radio Stoke

Elections for police and crime commissioners are to be held in the 41 police force areas of England and Wales on 5 May 2016. 

Ballot box
BBC

The candidates standing in Staffordshire listed alphabetically by surname:

- George Adamson (Labour) 

- Natalie Devaney (Independent) 

- Matthew Ellis (Conservative) 

- Harold Gregory (UKIP) 

- Paul Woodhead (Green Party) 

More information is available on the Choose my PCC website.  

Watch: Staffordshire toddler's parents say death 'mustn't be in vain'

Giles Latcham

BBC Midlands Today

The Staffordshire parents of a toddler who died after becoming tangled in the cord of a window blind say her death mustn't be in vain.   

Bronwyn Taylor died on Saturday, aged 16 months, following an accident at her grandparents' home in Fegg Hayes

Her mum Cathy, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, is urging other parents to check their homes for potential hazards.  

Ayeeshia Jane Smith trial: Accused pair 'changed stories several times'

Rebecca Woods

BBC News Online, Journalist

Kathryn Smith and Matthew Rigby from Nottingham changed their stories several times and claimed each other was the last to see Ayeeshia Jane Smith.

The trial heard social services were aware of the little girl from birth.

Kathryn Smith and Matthew Rigby
BBC

In June 2013, she was placed with a foster family but sent back to live with her mother in October, who had by then started a relationship with Rigby.

Smith and Rigby, who was considered the toddler's stepfather, were regular cannabis users and kept the drug in a cup of Ayeeshia's.

Ayeeshia Jane Smith trial: Pathologists found 16 separate injuries

Rebecca Woods

BBC News Online, Journalist

Ayeeshia Jane Smith collapsed at the couple's home in Britannia Drive in May 2014.  

Ayeeshia Jane Smith
South West News

The court heard she had a heart injury usually seen in people who have fallen off buildings or been in a car crash.

Pathologists found 16 separate injuries on her body, including a historical bleed on the brain.

The pair, who have since split up, insisted in court they had nothing to do with the toddler's death.

BreakingMan guilty of causing Ayeeshia Jane Smith's death

Dan Johnson

A man's been cleared of the murder of a toddler in Staffordshire. 

Matthew Rigby, 22, from Nottingham, was however found guilty of causing or allowing the death of a child after 21-month-old Ayeeshia Smith died in Burton in May 2014.

His ex-partner, Ayeesiah's mother, Kathryn Smith, 23, also from Nottingham, has been found guilty of cruelty to a child. 

The jury is still deliberating on one further count at Birmingham Crown Court.

Football: Port Vale manager hails Crewe boss for 'doing a great job'

Lee Blakeman

Port Vale commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

Port Vale boss Rob Page has praised the work that manager Steve Davis has done at Crewe Alexandra.

Steve Davis with his management team
crewealex.net

Davis won promotion to League One with the Alex, as well as winning the Johnstone's Paint Trophy with them. 

However they could be relegated at Vale Park tomorrow when they play Port Vale - but Page says he's been impressed with Davis' record.

He's done ever so well. Are Crewe ever going to be pushing with a £10m budget at the top of League One? Probably not, no, so he knows what he's got to do there and, in my opinion, I think he's doing a great job."

Rob PagePort Vale manager

This lunchtime on BBC Midlands Today: Buses, the Grand National and a falcon

BBC Midlands Today

We're looking at issues on a school run, opposition to academy plans, a regional favourite for the Grand National and a new flight for a peregrine falcon. 

Peregrine falcon before its flight
BBC

All those stories are set to be featured this lunchtime in BBC Midlands Today from 13:30.

News: Eviction facing charity founders; junior doctors strike ends; local legend film nearing completion

Chris King

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

These are among the top stories this afternoon:

- The founders of a Stoke-on-Trent homeless charity say they're facing eviction

- The latest junior doctors strike has ended - hundreds of hospital appointments were cancelled in Staffordshire and Cheshire by the walkout

- A film based on a Staffordshire Moorlands legend is to be released soon  

Travel: Train delays between Rugeley and Birmingham

BBC Travel

Signalling problems and other issues are affecting trains between Rugeley and Birmingham New Street.

Keep up-to-date with the BBC Travel website.

View more on twitter

Junior doctors' strike: Fresh talks 'ruled out'

Nick Triggle

Health Correspondent

The latest junior doctors strike has ended and they've returned to work.

The long-running dispute is over new contracts and the government has ruled out fresh talks.

Strikers protesting
PA

Sources told the BBC that the British Medical Association had blown its chance to negotiate and that there would be no deviation from imposing the new contracts.

It means the first-ever all-out strike by junior doctors looks likely to go ahead in three weeks, with the BMA also maintaining it will not climb down.

This week's walkout, which ended at 08:00, saw hundreds of hospital appointments postponed in Staffordshire and Cheshire.

BBC Weather Watcher picture: Sunrise over Hednesford

Monica Rimmer

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

Here's an example today of the kind of great photos we get every day from our BBC Weather Watchers.

This was taken by Thornhill Watch in Hednesford.

Hednesford
Thornhill Watch

You can become a BBC Weather Watcher too by going to the website and signing up.

Travel: Accident on A53 in Leek

BBC Travel

The A53 Broad Street in Ladderedge, Leek is closed at Junction Road because of an accident.

Police are directing traffic.

Watch: This afternoon's weather for Stoke and Staffordshire

Charlie Slater

BBC Weather presenter

You can also get a latest weather forecast for your part of Staffordshire or Cheshire at any time from the BBC website.

Staffordshire firm say business affected by phone issues

Ros Chimes

Reporter, BBC Radio Stoke

A Staffordshire Moorlands business has told BBC Radio Stoke they're missing out on trade because of issues with BT. 

Staffordshire Van Sales
Google

Staffordshire Van Sales in Cheadle say they've had no custom for the last three days since being disconnected. 

BT say in a statement that they're sorry for the disruption and are working to sort it out "as quickly as possible".

Grand National 2016: BBC Sport's coverage

BBC Sport

We are close to one of the biggest days in the UK sporting calender - the Grand National, which takes place tomorrow.

As ever, it is likely for many people to be the only horse race they follow this year and there's plenty of coverage to look out for on the BBC Sport website including:

- The BBC's horse racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght assesses the Aintree Festival stories to look out for

- How Many Clouds could be the first horse since Red Rum to win two back-to-back Grand Nationals

- A Pinstickers' guide to the Aintree runners & riders in the Grand National

Find out how you can follow the race on BBC radio, online, mobile app and the BBC Sport app.