Emotions spill over at murder trial

Rio Smedley
Rio Smedley
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A WIGAN man accused of murdering a two-year-old boy held his head in his hands and wept when his elderly grandmother broke down in tears while giving evidence in his trial.

Daniel Rigby, 23, is on trial at Manchester Crown Court where he stands accused of murdering his girlfriend’s son, Rio Smedley.

Rio’s mother, Kirsty Smedley, 24, is charged with allowing or causing the death of a child.

The prosecution say Rio, who died with 91 separate injuries on his body, was murdered by Rigby following a course of “ill-treatment and violent conduct”.

The court heard yesterday from Rigby’s grandmother, Doreen Rigby.

Her grandson had taken Rio to her house on the bus the day before he died of a ruptured liver, the court heard.

Grey-haired Mrs Rigby, who appeared frail, was slowly led into the court by an usher and then helped to take a seat in the witness box.

On seeing her grandson in the dock she broke down in tears before taking the oath, then in a shaky voice said: “I’m sorry.”

Rigby wept and held his head in hands before he was handed tissues by a security guard.

Smedley also cried as she watched Mrs Rigby give her evidence.

The grandmother confirmed to Simon Phillips QC, for the prosecution, that Rigby had brought Rio to her house in Tyldesley on the afternoon of April 21.

She said: “He was a bit quiet for a little boy.” Mrs Rigby said Rio and her grandson were in the living room of her house while she made them bacon sandwiches in the kitchen.

She said Rio was sat on a leather chair which her two dogs often sat in and that she thought they were watching CBeebies on television.

Asked if she noticed anything about Rio, she said: “He was a bit pale but he was cold I think...I don’t know.”

Mrs Rigby said she was “a bit deaf” but that she thought Rigby and Rio “laughed a lot” while they were there.

Rigby, of no fixed address, claims that one of his grandmother’s dogs jumped up at Rio, knocking him off the chair, causing him to bang his head.

Mrs Rigby said her dogs were “well behaved” and that she did not notice anything unusual.

She said Rigby may have told her that one of the dogs knocked Rio off the chair but that she could not remember and admitted that one of her dogs was “clumsy”.

Mrs Rigby then broke down in tears again before saying: “He was a lovely little boy. I could have loved him forever ... I can’t believe what’s happened to him.”

She also told the court Rio appeared fine when he left her home.

Rigby, of Tyldesley, denies murdering the toddler and claims Rio fell down the stairs of Smedley’s Bolton home while in his care.