A stepfather accused of stamping a toddler to death performed CPR on the tot while the little girl's mother was out getting cannabis, a court heard. Matthew Rigby made the claims while giving evidence at Birmingham Crown Court today. He told the court he was about to take a shower when he heard a noise from little Ayeeshia Jane Smith and found her turning "blue". Asked where the child's mother Kathryn Smith had been at the time, the 22-year-old said she had gone out to "pick up (cannabis)", but had left without telling him where she was going.

The incident at a flat where Smith lived in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, happened on February 3, 2014, and has been linked by medical experts to an historic brain bleed the child had suffered, which was only uncovered after she died. Medical experts have previously told the court the tot - who also bit through her own tongue - was so badly injured she resembled a car crash victim Rigby, 22, is accused of killing the girl, along with his former partner Smith, 23. The former apprentice engineer today admitted having two previous convictions for assault, and regularly working out at the gym during that time, but denied ever harming the girl or witnessing Smith do the toddler any harm. Giving evidence for the first time, Rigby told the jury today he was smoking cannabis three or four times a week with Smith. He claimed Smith would get moody and "frustrated" if she could not have a joint.

On February 3 2014, Rigby was alone in the flat about to take a shower when he claimed he heard Ayeeshia make "a high-pitched" noise and then found the girl blue and unresponsive. He said: "She wasn't responding to anything I was saying to her, she wasn't moving and she wasn't breathing." Rigby said he started giving CPR to the girl but said Smith was not present, having gone out to get cannabis. After a spell in hospital the little girl made a full recovery and was allowed home with her mother and stepfather.



Rigby also gave a different account to that of Smith when asked about an incident when Ayeeshia cut her lip badly during a fall in the bathroom. Smith had denied being present when she gave evidence last week, but Rigby told the jury his girlfriend was sat in the bath when the little girl had fallen, adding: "I saw that with my own eyes." He said: "She was just jumping in the bath and there wasn't anything to stop her from slipping." Rigby's barrister Mark Haywood QC asked him about Ayeeshia's fatal collapse at the family's flat in Britannia Drive in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, on May 1 2014. Asked by Mr Haywood why he responded with "colourful language" to police after Ayeeshia died, Rigby said: "I felt a little bit intimidated because they wouldn't let us leave the room.

Describing his relationship with Smith, he said they had sparked up a romance in October 2013 telling the jury he wanted to help the young mother "better herself". That statement caused Smith, sitting some distance away in the dock, to shake her head as she listened to Rigby's account to the jury. However, he also accepted their relationship could be volatile and there were "verbal arguments" throughout the time they were together.

Jurors have already heard how Smith gave Rigby a silver-coloured locket containing Ayeeshia's ashes just before the start of the trial, and how their relationship had been continuing right up to that point. The trial continues.