York College Nursery: Nursery worker denies charges

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Sophee Redhead, who is accused of the manslaughter of Lydia Bishop, has denied she did not look after the three-year-old properly.

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Nursery worker Sophee Redhead told the jury at Leeds Crown Court about the moment she saw Lydia Bishop ‘motionless’ on a slide at York College nursery with a rope round her neck.

Asked by her barrister, Alistair MacDonald QC, ‘Were you exercising vigilance in relation to Lydia as you understood it?’ Ms Redhead said, ‘Yes’.

She claimed she had seen Lydia playing in a sand pit on the same side as her where there was a ‘makeshift barrier’ to stop children from going on the slide without supervision.

Ms Redhead told the court she was comforting a child who had fallen over and was still with the child when a colleague, Chloe Moses, said Lydia had not had her afternoon snack. It was then she realised that the three-year-old was no longer in the sand pit.

The nursery worker, who had worked at the setting for six years, went on to say that the only other place Lydia could be was by the slide and told the jury she went through the barrier towards it.

‘As I got closer I saw something on the slide, something white’, said Ms Redhead, who told the court Lydia had been playing ‘dress-up’ and placed white trousers over her own.

She added, ‘I could see something wasn’t right. As I got closer I realised that she (Lydia) was on the slide.'

Her barrister asked, ‘Did she have rope round her neck?’ Ms Redhead said she did and that she shook Lydia’s shoulders and shouted her name.

Lydia didn’t reply and Sophee Redhead took her inside the nursery where she and other staff tried to resuscitate her until paramedics arrived. Lydia Bishop later died in hospital.

Ms Redhead denied that she failed in her duty of supervision towards the three-year-old, alleged by prosecution barrister Robert Smith.

Earlier on, she said that another member of staff had been in a position where she could see children going past the ‘makeshift barrier’.

Ms Redhead also said that she may have told a doctor on the evening of Lydia’s death (17 September 2012), that she had seen her going up the steps to the slide and shouted at her to come back, but she couldn’t remember saying it.

The nursery worker denied seeing Lydia on the steps of the slide or going past the barrier towards the slide. She also denied seeing a rope attached to the slide at about 9:30am on 17 September.

However, the prosecution alleges Ms Redhead knew Lydia had gone towards the slide when there was a rope attached to it and left her there alone for 20 minutes, during which time she was fatally injured.

Sophee Redhead denies manslaughter by gross negligence and failing to take ‘reasonable’ care of the child 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 trial continues.