Bolton toddler Rio Smedley battered to death after promiscuous mum allowed ‘shadowy’ men into family, report finds

By Jon Harris

A two-year-old Bolton boy was battered to death after his promiscuous and irresponsible mother allowed their family life to be overrun by a string of ‘shadowy, unknown’ men, an official report said today.

Little Rio Smedley suffered 91 separate injuries after being punched, kicked and stamped on with such severity by her mum’s latest boyfriend that the savage assaults split his liver in two.

The youngster, who was known to social services, had lived without adequate food and warmth at a time when his mother Kirsty Smedley entertained a string of visitors including a man who had carried out serious assaults on another woman.

Smedley – who lived off state benefits on a rundown council estate in Breightmet, Bolton – had become pregnant a total of seven times by a number of different men and was said to have ‘an irresponsible view of obligations of a mother’.

When Rio was six months old a fire broke out at the house after he was left in the care of very young babysitters. The family house was also regularly the subject of complaints of anti-social behaviour.

Tragedy struck after Smedley had a fling with ex-con Daniel Rigby during which he headbutted her across the face and called her a ‘fat slag’.

But even though he was arrested and banned from contacting Smedley, she was so infatuated with Rigby she dropped charges against him – even rekindled their romance and invited him to move back into her home.

Just two days later little Rio was rushed to hospital following a 999 call falsely claiming he had fallen down the stairs.

The youngster died shortly afterwards with doctors concluding he was beaten viciously his injuries were similar to being involved in a road accident.

At the time of Rio’s death Smedley was heavily pregnant with her third child – but had not told Rigby someone else was the father. She only revealed the truth in a witness box when she was testifying at a trial over the toddler’s death.

Rigby, now 24, is serving life for murder with a minimum tariff of 17 years while Smedley, now 25, was jailed for four years for allowing Rio’s death.

In the weeks before she was sent to prison she became pregnant yet again but had a termination and was said to be considering getting herself sterilised.

Today Bolton Safeguarding Children Board published a serious case review which concluded there were ‘missed opportunities’ in the case but Rio’s death could not have been prevented.

Author Sian Griffiths who refers to Rio as ‘Child J’, Smedley as ‘Adult P’ and Rigby as ‘Adult Q’ said: ”This was not a case of serious chronic physical neglect but there was evidence  that Adult P was inconsistent, at times to the point of  dangerousness in the supervision of her children.

”There was information which suggested there could be risks attached to Adult P’s decisions regarding personal relationships.

”As a teenager there were concerns about the potential for her being exploited and she had acknowledged difficulties in regulating visitors to the house.

”The arrival of Adult Q within the family was unexpected, indeed unknown to agencies until the assault on Adult P took place.

”There was some evidence of lack of adequate food and warmth in the home, inattention to safety in the home and shadowy unknown males in the background, one of whom had committed serious offences of domestic abuse against another woman.”

Smedley had begun dating Rigby in 2011 after giving birth to Rio during a previous relationship.

He had previous convictions for assault, public order matters and car theft and regularly flew into rages at their home. In January 2012 Smedley announced she was three months pregnant but Rigby punched and slapped her in the belief she had been texting other men.

Friends recalled how he also head-butted her and kicked her in the head during a row in the kitchen while waiting for her to ‘get him some money’.

In March 2012 when Smedley was five months pregnant, Rigby punched her in the face grabbed her by the cheeks, pushed her into a door and headbutted her after claiming she was planning to have sex with other men.

He was arrested and bailed on condition he make no contact with her with Smedley telling her midwife how she feared Rigby would kill her. A social worker also urged Smedly to ring her if there were any further problems.

But on April 3 Smedley withdrew a police statement she made about the attack and on April 20, Rigby was told no further action would be taken against him.

He immediately returned to their home and that evening Smedley left him to care for Rio for an hour while she and a friend went off to pick up portions of fish chips from a nearby takeaway.

When Smedley returned home Rio already had red blotches on him and was feeling sick but she ignored the warning signs and instead went out again the next day to see relatives leaving the youngster at home with her violent boyfriend.

During that time Rigby sent a text to Smedley saying Rio had ‘fallen off the arm of the couch at his grandmother’s house when the dog jumped up at him’ and another saying he had been hit with a plastic toy sword.

When she returned the youngster was sporting a bruise to his bottom, yet the following day the mother went out for a third time leaving Rio with Rigby while she went to a laundrette.

She was eventually received a text by Rigby who said Rio had fallen down the stairs. She rushed back home to find the youngster was not moving and his eyes ‘sunk’ to the back of his head and dialled 999.

Smedley claimed she never thought Rigby would harm Rio and claimed she had ‘provoked’ Rigby into attacking her.

She said she asked police to drop proceedings against him as she was missing him and was happy for him to move back in with her because he said he would not attack her again.

Story via Cavendish Press.

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