Lydia Bishop was found blue and not breathing at York College’s nursery
It had been toddler’s first day of nursery school, Leeds Crown Court heard
Worker Sophee Redhead denies manslaughter by gross negligence
York College also denies health and safety breaches – the trial continues
A toddler died on her first day at nursery school when she was left to play alone on a slide known to be dangerous, a court heard yesterday.
Lydia Bishop became entangled in a ‘loop’ at the top of the slide. It tightened around her neck and choked her as she slid down.
No children were allowed to be in the play area alone, but it was 20 minutes before the three-year-old was found by a member of staff.
She was ‘blue’ and not breathing and efforts to revive her failed, Leeds Crown Court was told. Lydia died just five hours after being dropped off by her parents at the nursery at York College.
Prosecutor Robert Smith, QC, told the jury there was a ‘tick-box mentality’ at the nursery, with staff focusing on ‘excellent’ paperwork rather than ensuring safety rules were adhered to.
He added: ‘Compliance with health and safety law was done on paper but not in practice.’
Sophee Redhead, 25, was one of the nursery staff supervising Lydia and saw her walk in the direction of the slide, but did nothing to stop or supervise her, it was alleged.
She denies manslaughter by gross negligence and an alternative health and safety charge of failing to take ‘reasonable care’ of the little girl.
York College, which owns the nursery, is also on trial and has denied failing to ensure people not in its employment are not exposed to a risk to their health and safety.
On the day of the tragedy in September 2012, staff had placed a makeshift barrier across the path leading to the slide in a ‘futile attempt’ to stop children going there unsupervised.
The nursery regularly used ropes for play, but risk assessments had identified the potential danger of strangulation from rope attached to the slide.
Strict rules – posted on the nursery walls – stated no children should play on the slide without adult supervision and the rope should be put away when staff were not there.
The tragedy happened when most of the children were enjoying a snack. Disturbing CCTV images played in court showed Lydia walking down the path at 2.05pm and climbing the steps to the slide.
The camera – positioned behind the slide – shows ‘slight movement’ at the top and Lydia isn’t seen again. Almost 20 minutes later a member of staff realised Lydia was missing and asked Redhead to check outside.
Redhead is seen on CCTV at 2.26pm running towards the slide and carrying the lifeless girl back.
Describing finding Lydia on the slide, she said: ‘Her head was about six inches from the top of the slide. As I got to the slide I could see that a loop of rope was round her neck.’
A doctor said Lydia could have recovered if she had been found after a few minutes.
The trial continues.
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