1. ITV Report

Man denies "losing his rag" and killing two-year-old boy

Rio Smedley died in April. His mother's partner has denied murdering him. Photo: Greater Manchester Police

A man accused of murdering a two-year-old boy has denied "losing his rag" and hitting the child with such force as to "split his liver in two", a court heard today.

Daniel Rigby, 23, from Tyldesley, Wigan, is on trial at Manchester Crown Court accused of murdering his girlfriend's son, Rio Smedley, in a "wicked attack".

As he was cross-examined, Rigby denied ever hurting Rio and tried to shift blame for some of the child's 91 injuries on to the boy's mother, Kirsty Smedley.

Smedley, 24, is charged with allowing or causing the death of a child and sat shaking her head in the dock as she heard Rigby's evidence.

Rigby repeatedly denied accusations from Simon Phillips QC, for the prosecution, that he was "trading in lies" and claimed that Rio had fallen down the stairs while he was looking after him in Cheriton Drive, Breightmet, Bolton.

Mr Phillips said: "You didn't care about that little boy or what happened to him at all did you Mr Rigby?"

Rigby, wearing a grey suit, white shirt and tie, responded: "I did care about that little boy, yeah."

Mr Phillips said that at around 4.30pm on April 22 this year a neighbour heard a "thud" coming from the house.

Mr Phillips asked: "Was that noise you striking Rio with such force as to split his liver in two?"

Rigby replied: "Never."

Mr Phillips said a pathologist had given evidence to the jury to say that Rio's ruptured liver could not have been caused by a fall down the stairs, but more likely by punches, kicks and stamping.

Rigby said: "That is not what happened. I did not beat that kid up that day. I didn't do anything to him. I would never hurt Rio. Never."

He said he could not explain where the 91 injuries found on Rio's body had come from and denied "losing his rag" with Rio because he was having to look after him instead of going to his sister's house to smoke cannabis and because Smedley had failed to get him some money from her grandparents.

Mr Phillips said: "That Sunday, you committed a sustained and violent attack on him didn't you?"

"I did not, no," Rigby said.

"A wicked attack on a defenceless two-year-old child," Mr Phillips said.

Rigby replied: "Never."

When he was asked about a large bruise on Rio's bottom, Rigby tried to blame the injury on Smedley.

Mr Phillips said: "Kirsty Smedley must have made that mark on his bottom then?"

Rigby replied: "She must have made the mark because I didn't."

But Mr Phillips said this account did not match up with text messages Rigby sent to Smedley the day before Rio died telling her not to panic.

Mr Phillips said Rigby tried to blame the injury on another child and also on his grandmother's dog, which he said knocked Rio off a chair.

Rigby told the court he did not raise the alarm or call for help when he realised Rio had fallen down the stairs.

He said the child was smiling and said "hiya" to him when he found him at the bottom of the stairs.

He said he waited almost two hours until Smedley came home and that it was only when she arrived that the child took a turn for the worse and she called 999.

The court heard that in the intervening hour and 45 minutes Rigby, who admits he was smoking cannabis while he was looking after Rio, was arranging a visit to his sister's house to smoke the drug.

Mr Phillips said paramedics gave evidence that Rio was "effectively clinically dead" when they arrived.

Mr Phillips said: "Are you saying that that all happened within the space of 10 minutes?"

Rigby said: "He stopped moving when Kirsty was on the phone to them, yeah."

Mr Phillips said Rigby did not care for Rio and that he had "set about him with extreme violence".

Rigby replied: "Never."

Rigby also denied punching or head butting Smedley while she was five months pregnant and accused her and her mother and friends of lying about it.

Earlier the court heard he was arrested for assaulting Smedley but she dropped the charges.

The prosecution say Rio was murdered by Rigby following a course of "ill-treatment and violent conduct".

The court heard that on Rio's final weekend alive, Smedley left Rigby in sole charge of him for long periods on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and that Rigby sent her numerous "impatient" text messages regarding the child.

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