A mother has been sentenced to life -- with a minimum of 24 years in prison -- for beating her toddler to death while she sat among her toys .
The May 2014 murder of 21-month-old Ayeeshia Jane Smith by her mother, Kathryn Smith, has prompted an investigation into Derbyshire social services. Although social services had been present throughout Ayeeshia’s entire life, officials failed to intervene after the child had suffered various incidents of abuse and neglect at the hands of her mother.
"The outburst of savage violence which killed Ayeeshia was not an isolated incident and that violence was inflicted upon her repeatedly under the noses of all the various agencies that were supposed to be protecting her," said Judge Geraldine Andrews, as reported by the Daily Mail.
"We will not stand for it, that AJ was murdered and died in vain," said Robert Wade, family spokesman.
Prior to her murder, a neighbor heard the child screaming, "Stop [mommy], stop daddy," at her home in Burton, Staffordshire, England, according to the Daily Mail. Matthew Rigby, Smith’s then-boyfriend, was found guilty of allowing the toddler’s death and was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison.
Ayeeshia’s injuries were compared to those suffered by a "car crash victim," including shattered ribs, a partially severed tongue, and torn heart.
During the trial, which was described by the lead police investigator as a "harrowing, horrible, and heartbreaking" case, Smith alleged having nothing to do with the death. Judge Andrews told Smith that she performed the "grossest breach of trust" as she vetted her anger out on her innocent daughter.
"She was a [defenseless] child, thin and fragile for her age and it was your responsibility as mother to take care of her and protect her from harm […] for no apparent reason, her life was brutally snuffed out in a vicious beating in her own bedroom, surrounded by her toys and playthings," Andrews told Smith during the sentencing, as reported by the Guardian. "It was you who remained your number one priority and Ayeeshia came a very poor second."
The Daily Mail also reported that Kathryn Smith spent money meant for her daughter on her cannabis addiction.
Ricky Booth, Ayeeshia’s biological father, has yet to receive the child’s ashes to be able to put his daughter to rest. Smith was given the ashes after Ayeeshia’s cremation and will not disclose where they are located.
"You are a devious, manipulative and selfish young woman who would stop at nothing to get your own way," said Andrews.