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Rio Smedley: Man Gets Life For Murdering Toddler
A man has been jailed for life for murdering his girlfriend's two-year-old son, who bled to death after his liver was split in two.
Rio Smedley had 91 separate injuries when he died of internal injuries in April.
Manchester Crown Court heard that the fatal injury was a result of "extreme blunt force trauma" as part of a sustained physical assault.
Daniel Rigby, 23, put his head in his hands as the jury returned the guilty verdict. He had always denied ever hurting Rio.
Rio's mother, 24-year-old Kirsty Smedley, has been found guilty of causing or allowing the death of her son.
Rigby was sentenced to life in prison and ordered to serve a minimum term of 17 years before he would be considered for parole.
Mr Justice David MacKay told him: "The jury has convicted you of the murder of this little boy. You don't need me to tell you what a terrible crime that was."
The judge said Rigby had abused his position of trust.
He went on: "You abused that trust by punishing him physically in quite a revolting way.
"It's a chilling, terrible picture. He suffered considerably before he died, I am satisfied. He was a vulnerable boy. You abused your trust."
The judge said he did not think Rigby intended to kill Rio but had a "sudden loss of temper" and "set about him, inflicting the fatal blow".
Earlier the court was told that Rio's injuries were likely to have been caused by "heavy blows" from "punches, kicks, knees and stamping".
Rigby was alone with Rio on April 22 because the boy's mother had gone out to borrow money from relatives.
Rigby told the trial the toddler had fallen down the stairs at their home in Bolton.
But the pathologist who carried out the post-mortem examination said the injuries could not be explained by a fall.
A month earlier Smedley had told police that Rigby had butted and punched her during an argument.
At the time she was heavily pregnant. He had been arrested but denied assault.
Smedley later withdrew the allegation and told the trial she did so because she was missing Rigby.
She told the jury that she still loved Rigby, even though he had assaulted her.
Smedley said she thought Rigby and Rio got on and that Rio was "happy" when Rigby came back into their lives after she dropped the assault charges against him.
She said Rigby was "patient and playful" with her son.
The day before he died Rigby took Rio on a day out. The toddler returned home with a bruise on his head and a large bruise on his bottom.
Rigby said the head injury was caused by a dog knocking Rio off a chair at his grandmother's house.
Smedley said she did not take much notice of the large bruise on Rio's bottom. She also denied Rigby's claim that she had caused the bruise.
But Smedley did admit to the jury that she told Rigby "not to tell anyone" because "they will think I hit him".
Asked repeatedly why she had left her son with a man who had been violent towards her Smedley told the court that Rigby and Rio were close.
The trial heard that instead of calling paramedics when Rio was dying Rigby had contacted his sister to try to arrange to meet up and smoke cannabis.
When Smedley returned to the house in Bolton she called paramedics but by the time they arrived her son was no longer breathing.
Her sentencing was adjourned to a date yet to be fixed and she was remanded in custody.