A 21-month-old girl was heard screaming “stop mummy, stop daddy” just days before she was stamped to death by one of her parents, a court heard.
Mum Kathryn Smith, 23, and her partner Matthew Rigby, 22, are accused of murdering their daughter Ayeeshia Jane Smith.
A court heard the tragic tot died from a laceration to her heart that was caused by a powerful foot stamp on her chest, which triggered a cardiac arrest.
Ayeeshia had only been returned to Smith six months before her death on May 1, 2014, having previously been taken into care by social services.
The youngster was also found with other injuries including a large bruise to her back and buttocks, bruising to her head, neck, left eyelid and left leg.
The pair – who have since split up – deny murdering the toddler at their home in Stretton, Burton-upon-Trent, Staffs.
Prosecutor Christopher Hotten said: “No child, certainly under the age of two, should suffer bruising at the hands of those who should be caring for her.
“However, that is precisely what we say happened to Ayeeshia in the eight months or so these two people were jointly looking after her.
“We say there was a consistent pattern of non-accidental bruising that must have happened when one or both were looking after Ayeeshia and about which both must have known.”
Birmingham Crown Court heard Smith called 999 at around 4pm on May 1, 2014, and told an operator Ayeeshia was barely breathing.
The youngster was declared dead at 5pm at Burton’s Queen’s Hospital where the couple told doctors Ayeeshia had suffered a seizure.
But Mr Hotten said a post-mortem examination revealed she had suffered a fatal wound to her heart and had three broken ribs.
He added: “The likely mechanism was a forceful stamp to her chest as she lay down.”
On Tuesday (1/3) neighbour Tracey Roberts told the jury she frequently heard arguing and loud noises coming from the couple’s flat in Britannia Drive, in Burton-on-Trent.
She said: “I heard what sounded like an argument, and screaming, then I heard what I thought was a child’s voice.
“It was a short, different voice, and sounded young. I could hear the voice say ‘stop mummy, stop daddy’ and sounded upset.”
Ms Roberts said she had left the flat to go shopping at around 1.30pm on the day the tot died and saw Smith in the car park.
She later returned and put her shopping away and believes that around 3.05pm to 3.10pm she heard shouting coming from next door within the flat.
She heard a man shouting in a raised voice for about five minutes but heard nothing more until a police officer knocked on her door at around 5pm.
The court also heard Smith made three 999 calls to the police in the weeks leading up to the death of her daughter Ayeeshia.
She called the police at 9.27pm on March 11, and at around 5am and 7am on April 4, 2014.
During the 5am call Smith told the 999 responder that her partner, Rigby, was going to cut himself and blame her.
Later, Smith told police: “He is getting me killed within a week.”
PC Jonathan Minshull, of Staffordshire Police, revealed during a visit to the flat he had been told by Smith that Rigby had made threats to kill her and had damaged Ayeeshia’s cot by setting fire to it.
Gary Phillips, a watch manager at Burton Fire Station, also told the court that while visiting their home he noticed a distinct smell of cannabis and that Smith ‘was very glazed over’ and slow to respond to conversation.
Her daughter was in the flat at the time.
Mr Phillips later sent an email to the officer in charge of fire safety concerned about the property.
Smith and Rigby, both from Nottingham, deny murder, causing or allowing the death of a child and cruelty to a child.
Kathryn Smith and Matthew Rigby yesterday (Wed) broke down in tears as the harrowing 999 call they made on the day their daughter died was played to the jury.
The court heard the couple performed CPR on Ayeeshia Jane Smith for several minutes as the female call handler gave them instructions.
In the recording, Smith can be heard crying uncontrollably and telling the woman: “It’s my daughter, she’s had a seizure. She’s not breathing. She’s seizing.
“She’s on the floor. She has a seizure when she gets too hot.
“There’s nothing. She’s gone, she’s gone. You need to be here.”
The mobile phone is then put on loudspeaker and the call handler instructs Rigby to put his finger in his daughter’s mouth to remove any obstructions to the airway.
He counts to five repeatedly as he performs chest compressions on the little girl and her mother wails in the background.
Smith then says: “Nothing’s happening. There’s no heart beat,” before hanging up.
Smith, wearing a grey hoodie, dark leggings and glasses, sat in the dock with her head in her heads, sobbing and wiping her face with a tissue as the audio was played.
Sitting alongside her, Rigby, wearing a white unbuttoned shirt and black jeans, turned his face away and wept.
Marcus Bailey, of West Midlands Ambulance Service, was the first paramedic on the scene at 4.10pm on May 1, 2014.
He told the court: “I saw a lady standing in the doorway, she looked distressed. She ushered me into the living room.
“The place looked reasonably well-kept and I didn’t hear any shouting that I can recall.
“My initial vision was the adult male performing CPR on the child.
“The child was laid on the floor, flat on her back on a fluffy blanket. She was naked in front of the fireplace.
“She looked incredibly pale. I instructed the male to stand to one side so I could start treatment.
“When I touched the child I noticed how cold she was, it was unusually cold. There was blueness around the extremities which indicates a lack of oxygen in the body.
“I didn’t observe any markings to the child.
“I started chested compressions and my colleague put a tube in her mouth to try and get some oxygen into her.
“We gave her adrenaline but there was no heart rhythm at all. She was flat-lining.
“We conveyed her to the ambulance and drove to hospital. The female was in the front and the male was in the back with myself and a colleague as we continued resuscitation.
“There was a full team waiting for us when we arrived and I was still at the hospital when I later heard the child had died.
“When I was at the property, I seem to remember the male said he had heard a thud in the bedroom.
“He also said she had previously suffered a febrile convulsion, which I noted in my statement.
“I overheard a comment from them that there was a five-minute delay in calling an ambulance because they thought they could handle the situation themselves.”
Paramedic Mark Chiles, who also attended the scene, added: “The mother appeared very distraught and said ‘do something, do something’.
“It was mentioned the child had had a couple of seizures in the past.
“The male said that the child had taken herself off to bed and they heard a scream. He said went in and found her purple and she started to twitch and then went limp.
“Her skin was white and waxy when we got there and she was very cold.”
The jury was also played three other recordings of 999 calls made by Smith – one on March 11, 2014, and two on April 14 that year.
In the first recording, Smith pretends to be a neighbour and reports “arguing and shouting” going on at her address and “things being smashed”.
When asked by the operator if she has children, she hangs up.
In the second call made the following month she calls again and asks for “someone to be sent to my address”.
When the operator asks why a child can be heard crying in the background Smith shouts “put it down”.
She can be heard arguing with a man and she says: “Stop it, Matt. Stop taking my daughter off me.
“I’m not letting you get into trouble. No, I’m not.”
Later that day she called 999 again and says Rigby had threatened to get her killed.
On February 3, 2014 – three months before her death – Ayeeshia was treated in hospital after she became “floppy and unresponsive.”
A pathologist who performed a post-mortem Ayeeshia said her brain was “starved of oxygen” shortly before her death.
Doctor Safa Al-Suraj, consultant neuropathologist at Kings College Hospital, said: “Microscopic examination showed bleeds consistent with those of several weeks or months old duration.
“There was also an old healed thin subdural haematoma in the spinal cord. It was consistent with bleeding of several weeks to months’ duration.
“She was starved of oxygen in the period immediately before death.
“It’s possible these could have been caused by one or more episodes of trauma.
“Such trauma could occur in a fall where there’s more than one impact but it would need to be a significant fall.
“A possible cause for the injuries would be hyper-flexing and hyper-extension of the neck which involves excessive moving of the head forward and back.
“This can be caused by shaking and can result in strain of the blood vessels and bleeding.”