Chilling window into violent relationship of murdered toddler's parents

Kirsty Smedley and Daniel Rigby

Kirsty Smedley and Daniel Rigby

First published in News
Last updated
The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , health reporter

A REPORT into the police handling of domestic abuse complaints offers a chilling window into the violent relationship between murderer Daniel Rigby and Kirsty Smedley — which ultimately cost little Rio Smedley his life.

The toddler had been left alone with Rigby, who had a history of domestic violence, at his home in Cheriton Drive, Breightmet.

When his mother Kirsty Smedley went to visit her mother, who lived nearby, she was not to know it would be the last time she would see her son alive.

But knowing Rigby was violent — he had beaten her up so badly she had to be taken to hospital — meant she was aware the toddler was in danger, and it landed her in the dock too, facing criminal charges.

Subsequent investigations by Bolton Safeguarding Children Board and police watchdog the IPCC concluded nothing more could have been done to prevent Rio’s death.

Yet the IPCC’s report does detail the volatile and allegedly violent relationship between Smedley — who was four months pregnant at the time — and her then boyfriend Rigby.

When the case was handed to PC Hussain, Smedley alleged that Rigby had kicked her in the face on March 8.

She also stated that Rigby had dragged her into the kitchen, pushed her head into a door and headbutted her on March 13.

After the assault, the pregnant mum left the house with Rio in the pram and began walking to her grandmother’s house.

Rigby started to follow her and said: “If you don’t come home I’ll batter you proper.”

Frightened, Smedley returned home, where Rigby allegedly punched her in the side of the head and demanded bus money before he left.

Smedley was persuaded to report the assault to the police by a midwife at an antenatal clinic and Rigby was arrested Yet Smedley later retracted her allegation and proceeded to send Rigby 250 text messages and call him 168 times.

Her text messages said: “I’ve rung the police and said I don’t want it going any further.

“Show the police I have been ringing you. I love and miss you.”

The retraction of her statement and lack of evidence of her injuries led PC Hussain to conclude she was an “unreliable witness”, which meant the police took no further action against Rigby.

In the 48 hours before his death, Rio had been acting unusually, but it will never be fully known what happened to him.

But one thing the jury was certain of was that Rigby inflicted those injuries on the toddler, and that it was no accident.

Midwife was key witness

THE anonymous midwife in the IPCC’s investigation stands out as the key witness to the allegations of domestic assault made by Kirsty Smedley.

It was a midwife at an antenatal clinic in Breightmet who encouraged Smedley to report the alleged attack to the police.

She also drove Smedley to the Royal Bolton Hospital’s A&E department for treatment to the blow to her head.

Yet evidence obtained from Smedley’s medical records showing that she had attended hospital was not included the report by PC Hussain, according to the initial internal review.

In a statement taken after the death of Rio, the midwife explained she was on duty when Smedley’s mother called her and said Kirsty need to speak to her.

She told the midwife she had been punched in the head and that she felt sick and dizzy.

The midwife drove Smedley to the hospital because the young mum did not have enough money for a taxi.

When she saw Smedley, she noticed a small red mark on her forehead near the hairline which had not broken the skin.

At a later meeting at Smedley’s grandmother’s house, the midwife completed a marac form — which is used to flag up a person as being at risk of domestic violence to other agencies.

Smedley also told the midwife she thought Rigby “would kill her”, according to a later statement.

PC Hussain claims he was unable to contact the midwife for a statement in relation to the assault.

The IPCC report highlighted a section of PC Hussain’s write-up on the crime report which stated: “There was no concern re the victim and her child.”

Yet the IPCC report stated: “This was factually incorrect as the case was the subject of a marac referral.”

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