Derby

Ayeeshia Jane Smith: Grandma will 'never forgive' girl's killer

Ayeeshia Jane Smith was 21 months old when she died in May 2014 Image copyright Ayeeshia
Image caption Ayeeshia Jane Smith was 21-months-old when she died in May 2014

The grandmother of a toddler stamped to death by her own mother has said she can never forgive her murderer.

Ayeeshia Jane Smith suffered fatal injuries at the hands of Kathryn Smith.

Tracey Bodell said she did not know what her granddaughter had been through until she heard the evidence in court.

Smith was jailed for at least 24 years. Her then partner, Matthew Rigby, 22, was jailed for three years and six months after being found guilty of causing or allowing Ayeeshia's death.

Image caption Grandmother Tracey Bodell said she hoped her son Ricky - the child's biological father - would one day find peace

Ayeeshia collapsed in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, after suffering injuries normally associated with a car crash, Birmingham Crown Court heard.

It was the latest in a string of injuries leading up to her death in May 2014.

Ms Bodell, from Swadlincote, Derbyshire, said the 21-month-old girl was "a delight".

"She was such a happy child. You wouldn't have thought she was going through anything," she said.

Image copyright SWNS
Image caption Ayeeshia Jane Smith was said to be a happy and smiley little girl

"[After] we had given evidence, we sat in court and listened in detail to AJ's injuries. Up until that moment we weren't any the wiser.

"We had to grieve twice. We tried to grieve when she died and then go to court and listen to all what was going on - what had happened to this little girl who meant so much to us."

Ayeeshia was known to social workers and was placed with a foster family at about the time of her first birthday.

She thrived but returned to live with her mother in October 2013.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Kathryn Smith was jailed for at least 24 years and her then partner Matthew Rigby got three and a half years

Ms Bodell said: "I will never forgive her. I never speak ill of anybody but that is one girl I will never ever forgive for what she has taken from us."

She said her son Ricky Booth had "good and bad days" since the death of his daughter.

"We've all supported him as best we can but... hopefully in time Ricky will find a little bit of peace in his heart."

Image copyright Ricky Booth
Image caption Ayeeshia's biological father Ricky Booth previously said he hoped his anger would one day go away

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