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  1. Updates on Monday 11 April 2016
  2. News, sport, travel and weather updates to resume at 08:00 on Tuesday

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 Tuesday with the latest news, sport, travel and weather. 

Protestors won't get legal challenge to Cheshire waste site

Phil McCann

Political reporter, Cheshire

Campaigners trying to stop a major new Cheshire East Council recycling hub being built have been told they can't take legal action against it.

Middlewich protest

Planning permission for the centre in Middlewich was granted last year despite concerns over traffic. 

The protesters say a judge has told them they don't have enough evidence for a judicial review. 

Football: Bojan wants strong Stoke finish

Stoke forward Bojan Krkic says the Potters will be looking "to end the season in style" after being tonked 4-1 by Liverpool at Anfield.

Mark Hughes' side face second-placed Tottenham next Monday, having slipped to ninth in the Premier League after Sunday's defeat. 

View more on twitter

Train disruption: Cost of vandalism to power lines 'hundreds of thousands'

Caroline Gall

BBC News Online

Network Rail says the cost to the industry of this morning's disruption will run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.   

They say early indications are that "foul play" caused signalling failure and released pictures showing apparent attempts to burn and cut cables powering signals at Proof House junction, south of New Street station.

They're appealing for the public to come forward with any information.

Watch: Looking at what's coming up tonight on BBC Midlands Today

Nick Owen

Presenter, BBC Midlands Today

I'll be on BBC One from 18:30 with Midlands Today for the West Midlands - here's a look ahead to the big stories we're going to be covering.

View more on twitter

Football video: Difficult day for Stoke - Hughes

Matt Sandoz

Stoke City commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

The Stoke City boss Mark Hughes says his side "lacked strength and ability" during their 4-1 away defeat at Liverpool.

Watch: Tonight and tomorrow's weather for Stoke and Staffordshire

Sara Blizzard

BBC Weather

You can also get your latest weather forecast for your area at any time from the BBC website.

Toddler's family say they'll hold services accountable over death

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

The family of murdered toddler Ayeeshia Smith say they are prepared to take action if officials aren't held accountable over the death of the 21-month-old.

A serious case review is currently being carried out by the Derbyshire safeguarding children's board to examine what lessons can be learned from the child's death. 

If the board will not take on the responsibility or actions of their employees and activities then our family will gladly take the actions to ensure their accountability. We will not stand for it that AJ was murdered and died in vain."

Statement from the family of Ayeeshia Smith

Watch: Staffordshire veteran 'overwhelmed' by scooter donation

Phil Bowers

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

A Newcastle-under-Lyme veteran who had his mobility scooter stolen last week says he has been overwhelmed by people's kindness and generosity.  

Within minutes of Chris Hollins contacting BBC Radio Stoke he was offered a temporary scooter by Burslem Rotary Club. 

Now the Tri Services and Veterans Support Centre in Newcastle-under-Lyme has offered him a permanent one.  

News: Toddler murder 'grossest breach of trust'; knife robbery in Stoke; vandalism blamed for major rail delays

Chris King

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

The main headlines this afternoon include:

- The murder of a 21-month-old toddler in Staffordshire at the hands of her mother has been described as "the grossest breach of trust"  

- A Stoke-on-Trent shopkeeper has been robbed at knifepoint

- Vandalism is the likely cause of this morning's signalling failure at Birmingham New Street - causing significant delays on the rail network in Staffordshire and Cheshire

Ayeeshia Jane Smith murder: 'The grossest breach of trust'

Jennifer Meierhans

BBC News Online

The death of a 21-month-old toddler in Staffordshire at the hands of her mother has been described as "the grossest breach of trust".

Today Kathryn Smith, 23, from Nottingham was jailed for at least 24 years for murdering Ayeeshia Jane Smith during a "savage outburst" in the girl's bedroom.  

The judge at Birmingham Crown Court, Mrs Justice Geraldine Andrews said: "Ayeeshia was a particularly vulnerable victim, thin and slight of frame, deserving of protection and under the protection of social services for the whole of her short life.

"She was killed in her own home by her own mother - that is the grossest breach of trust." 

A spokesperson reading out a statement on behalf of Ayeeshia's family said calls had been made to social services highlighting the risk the toddler faced. 

Travel: Crash blocks lane on M6 near Essington, Staffordshire

BBC Travel

A lane is blocked on the M6 southbound between junctions 10a and 10 in Staffordshire because of an accident.

Congestion is back to junction 11a.

BBC Weather Watcher pictures: A Cheshire sunset and scenes from a Leek garden

Monica Rimmer

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

Here are a couple of the many BBC Weather Watcher photos we were sent over the weekend.

This first one's from Twemlowl of the sunset near Jodrell Bank, Cheshire.

Sunset over Jodrell Bank

While John took this in Leek - if you want to become a BBC Weather Watcher just head to the website and sign up.

Leek garden

Football: Burton recall loanee Palmer

Nigel Cash

BBC Radio Derby Sport

Burton Albion have recalled midfielder Matty Palmer from his loan spell at Oldham Athletic with immediate effect.

Palmer came through the club's academy system and has scored one goal in 14 appearances for the Latics.

Matty Palmer
Getty Images

Brewers boss Nigel Clough says having enjoyed regular football with Oldham, Palmer will be a useful addition to the Burton squad during for their remaining five games of the League One season.  

Masked man robs Stoke-on-Trent shop with knife

Lucy King

News Editor, BBC Radio Stoke

A Stoke-on-Trent shopkeeper has been robbed at knifepoint.

Best-one shop

A masked man entered the Best-one shop on Hartshill Road on Saturday evening say Staffordshire Police, "brandishing" what looked like a kitchen knife. 

He escaped with cash from the till and got into a green Ford Focus which officers say was waiting outside.

Tamworth man's marathon effort to help special needs charity

Tamworth Herald

An avid runner is set to embark on a marathon challenge to help raise money for a Tamworth charity group.

Stephen Thompson
Tamworth Herald

Football: Crewe boss says they have to come back stronger following relegation

Ged Scott

BBC Sport

Crewe Alexandra boss Steve Davis has told BBC Stoke that his side can come back stronger next season following relegation back to League Two.  

Crewe captain Harry Davis

Saturday's defeat by local rivals at Port Vale confirmed, with five League One games left, that Crewe will go down at the end of the season, four years after winning promotion under Davis.  

I've said how difficult League Two is. It's not easy. It'll be hard. This wasn't part of the plan. But we have to deal with it and accept it."

Steve DavisCrewe Alexandra manager

Fire crews called out dozens of times to help 'morbidly obese'

Alice Bentley

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

Figures obtained by BBC Radio Stoke show the fire service in Staffordshire has lifted 113 morbidly obese people out of their homes in the last five years.

Man eating fried chicken on bench

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service says it happens when ambulance or fire service crews can't remove a person safely due to their weight. 

The service says they then make use of their powerful winches and ladders.

Your pictures: Crewe from a microlight

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

This amazing picture of Crewe was taken by Jonathan White on a microlight flight last week.

Crewe - incl railway line, Cumberland Arena, Business Park, Alexandra Stadium, town centre
Jonathan White

Now you don't have to be up in the air to take a picture of Staffordshire or Cheshire - send them in on any subject and I'll feature as many as I can.

Send them in on email, tweet @BBCRadioStoke or you can put them on Instagram, adding #bbcstoke to the description so I can find them.

Darts: Stoke's Ian White clinches fifth title of career

Graham McGarry

BBC Radio Stoke Sport

Stoke-on-Trent darts player Ian White secured his fifth career title as he whitewashed Michael van Gerwen 6-0 to win the Players Championship Five at the Barnsley Metrodome.

Ian White of England
Getty Images

White averaged 106.2 in the match and landed four 180s as he swept past the world number one. 

The victory was White's first for six months. 

News: Mother jailed for toddler murder; train delays from power failure; Stoke robbery at knife-point

Chris King

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

The top stories for Staffordshire and Cheshire this afternoon include:

- A mother has been jailed for a minimum of 24 years for murdering her 21-month-old daughter in Staffordshire

- A major power failure caused hours of delays to trains through Birmingham New Street

- A masked man has robbed a Stoke-on-Trent shop with a knife

Travel: Crash on A50 in Stoke-on-Trent

BBC Travel

The A50 High Street in Tunstall's blocked both ways at the Reginald Mitchell Way junction, because of an accident.

Family of Ayeeshia Smith want toddler's ashes returned

BBC News England

The family of Ayeeshia Smith say they've been further distressed because they haven't been able to take possession of her ashes. 

Ayeeshia and her father
Ricky Booth

In a statement after today's sentencing, they said, on advice, they left her ashes with undertakers until the trial was over. 

However Kathryn Smith's solicitor told the undertakers to return them to her or the they would face prosecution, Ayeeshia's family said.  

Now the case is over Ms Smith will be facing a prison sentence and we have no idea where the ashes are at all and we would like them returned so that the family can finally lay AJ to rest."

Statement from the family of Ayeeshia Smith

Ayeeshia 'suffered violence repeatedly' in her short life

Phil Mackie

Midlands correspondent, BBC News

During sentencing, Mrs Justice Andrews said Ayeeshia's life "was brutally snuffed out in a vicious beating in her bedroom surrounded by her toys".  

She added that the violence was "not an isolated incident" and had been carried out "repeatedly, under the noses of agencies" that should have protected her.

NSPCC doubts 'lessons will be learned'

Euan Duncan

BBC Local Live

It is "doubtful" a serious case review into Ayeeshia Smith's death will advance child protection, the NSPCC says.

In a statement after today's sentencing, the charity said it was right both Kathryn Smith and Matthew Rigby were jailed but questioned whether anything would be learnt from the toddler's death.

The epitaph 'lessons must be learned' has been tagged on to too many tragic deaths of very young children. But it’s clear many are still vulnerable to such violent attacks."

NSPCC spokesman

Watch: Ayeeshia Smith death 'a tragedy'

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

Det Insp Andy Maxfield from Staffordshire Police has said the death of the 21-month-old toddler is a "tragedy" and said the investigation had taken its toll on officers.

Ayeeshia Jane Smith: Timeline to toddler's death

Rebecca Woods

BBC News Online, Journalist

Sequence of events leading up to Ayeeshia Jane Smith's death: 

- 15 July 2012: Ayeeshia is born - Derbyshire social services is already involved with a pre-birth child protection plan

- June 2013: She is put into foster care

- October 2013: Ayeeshia is returned to her mother, Kathryn Smith, who has started a relationship with Matthew Rigby

- 3 February 2014: The toddler collapses. She is misdiagnosed with a seizure (after her death, a bleed to the brain is found). The hospital is unaware she was under a supervision order, so does not alert social services

- 10 April 2014: Social services meet Kathryn Smith to discuss Ayeeshia's safety

- 1 May 2014: Ayeeshia dies from crushing injuries, aged 21 months

On Midlands Today this lunchtime: Reaction to toddler murder sentencing

Peter Wilson

BBC Midlands Today Special Correspondent

I've been at Birmingham Crown Court today for the sentencing of Kathryn Smith, who was convicted of the murder of her 21-month-old daughter Ayeeshia at their home in Staffordshire. 

Kathryn Smith

Her partner Matthew Rigby was also jailed today and I'll have reaction from the court in a full report from 13:30 on BBC One in Midlands Today.

Kathryn Smith sentenced to life for murdering daughter Ayeeshia

Burton Mail

Kathryn Smith was today handed a life sentence with a minimum of 24 years for the murder of her daughter, Ayeeshia Jane Smith.

Ayeeshia Jane Smith and Kathryn Smith
Burton Mail

News: Mum jailed for life for toddler murder; partner jailed for allowing death

Chris King

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

The top stories this afternoon:

- A mother has been jailed for a minimum of 24 years for murdering her daughter, 21-month-old Ayeeshia Jane Smith, in Staffordshire

- A judge said Kathryn Smith was 'devious, manipulative and selfish'

- Her partner was jailed for three years and six months for allowing the death

Toddler's mum 'vile and manipulative'

BBC News England

Det Insp Andy Maxfield of Staffordshire Police has given his reaction today outside Birmingham Crown Court to the sentencing of Kathryn Smith.

Kathryn Smith was a vile and manipulative individual, the Judge said as much. And I think that the fact that she's going to prison for a minimum term of 24 years is appropriate."

Andy MaxfieldStaffordshire Police

Toddler's father calls for social services to be held accountable

Peter Wilson

BBC Midlands Today Special Correspondent

Also in his statement after today's sentencing, Ayeeshia's father Ricky Booth went on to criticise the social services involved, saying "someone should be held responsible and accountable". 

Scratches on Ayeeshia's face
Ricky Booth

In a statement after Friday's verdicts, Andrew Stokes, interim chairman of Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board, said it was important to take time to look at the case "thoroughly" before publishing its review into the case.

"All the agencies involved with the family have contributed to a serious case review which has been held to identify any lessons that can be learned," he said.

Toddler's father 'warned social services of risk'

Phil Mackie

Midlands correspondent, BBC News

After today's sentencing, a statement was read out outside Birmingham Crown Court, on behalf of Ayeeshia's natural father, Ricky Booth.

In it, he said no sentence would "replace the loss of watching Ayeeshia grow up".

We were never told of the injuries surrounding the case until it was brought to court. We have had to sit through the case and had to listen to the events unfold. This has left us feeling very distraught and frustrated as we made calls to social services several weeks before AJ passed, warning them that she was at serious risk."

Ricky BoothAyeeshia Jane Smith's father

Ayeeshia Jane Smith murder: Burton MP calls for inquiry

Euan Duncan

BBC Local Live

A serious case review is being carried out by Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board to look at social workers' involvement in the lead-up to the death of Ayeeshia Jane Smith in May 2014.  

But Burton MP Andrew Griffiths believes the case shouldn't be investigated internally.  

The home in Britannia Drive, Burton-upon-Trent

He said: "What's shocking about this case is that there were so many signals, the lights should have been flashing, the alarm bells should have been ringing.  

"Social services knew what was going on. but they seem to have failed to act."  

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

Rebecca Woods

BBC News Online, Journalist

"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.

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.

Matthew Rigby and Kathryn Smith

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.

I've been examining the background to this case on the BBC News website and you can read more here.

Ayeeshia Jane Smith murder: Mother 'devious, manipulative and selfish'

Phil Mackie

Midlands correspondent, BBC News

In sentencing Kathryn Smith and Matthew Rigby, Mrs Justice Andrews told Rigby he knew Ayeeshia was at risk but turned a blind eye. 

Kathryn Smith and Matthew Rigby
Staffordshire Police

Ayeeshia's father Ricky Booth was in court to see the sentencing - along with 11 of the 12 jurors. 

Smith and Rigby stood in the dock crying as they heard the long list of injuries Ayeeshia suffered in the months before she died. 

Ayeeshia Jane Smith: 999 call by mother and partner

Tom Warren

BBC Local Live

The emergency call made by Kathryn Smith on the day of her daughter Ayeeshia's death has been made public.

In it Smith, 23, claims to attempt to revive her, with help from her partner Matthew Rigby, 22.

Ayeeshia Jane Smith murder: Judge said toddler was 'viciously crushed'

Jennifer Meierhans

BBC News Online

During sentencing the judge, Mrs Justice Andrews, said Ayeeshia Smith had died in an "outburst of savage violence", which was "not an isolated incident".

She described Smith as having an "explosive temper".

"For no apparent reason her life was snuffed out by a brutal beating in her bedroom surrounded by her toys," Mrs Justice Andrews said.  

Ayeeshia Smith