York College Nursery: Nursery worker denies manslaughter

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Sophee Redhead, aged 25, denies manslaughter by gross negligence.


York College Nursery

Three-year-old Lydia Bishop was not breathing when Ms Redhead found her at York College’s Nursery outdoor play area in September 2012, Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday.

lydia-bishopLydia (pictured) died on her first full day at the nursery after getting her neck caught in a rope on a slide and was undiscovered for 20 minutes, the court heard.

The case against Ms Redhead was that she saw the child walk towards the slide, but took no action.

The nursery worker also denies failing to take 'reasonable care' of the girl under health and safety legislation.

York College, which operated the 112-place nursery, denies failing to ensure people not in their employment are not exposed to a risk to their health and safety. The nursery never re-opened and was closed for good in October 2012.

Robert Smith QC, prosecuting, said, ‘Lydia was left entirely to her own devices for what was to be a prolonged period. Some 20 minutes passed during which no member of staff, nor Sophee Redhead, did anything to investigate where Lydia was, what she was doing or what had become of her.’

'Only when a member of staff discovered she was not in the building did anyone appreciate she may have come to some harm.'

CCTV images from the nursery showed Lydia walking alone towards the slide and climbing the steps before she disappeared from view.

The court heard that around 20 minutes later, Ms Redhead was shown running towards the area and shortly afterwards rushing back with the child in her arms.

Reports suggest that when Ms Redhead carried Lydia into the nursery she was not breathing and was blue.

All efforts to revive the three-year-old by nursery staff, paramedics and doctors at York Hospital failed.

The jury was told that Lydia’s mother, who was dropping her child off at the setting for her first full day, had been assured by the nursery that children were not left alone outside to play on the apparatus.

Mr Smith told the court that despite a risk assessment identifying ropes to be a potential hazard to children, they were not put away every night, and had been left tied to the slide for weeks or months before Lydia died.

A wooden bench was placed on the path to the metal slide at times when children were not supposed to play on it, but they could crawl underneath it to get past, Mr Smith said.

He accused the nursery of having a ‘tick-box mentality’ towards health and safety, which meant legislation was followed on paper but not in practice.'

He added, ‘Lydia’s death in the loop of rope was completely avoidable had proper measures been taken to protect her.’

The court heard that on the day of Lydia’s death there were 17 other children in her age group at the nursery and three staff.

The court case is expected to last for three weeks.

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