Principal ‘devastated’ by girl’s nursery death

The principal of a Yorkshire college said she had been “devastated” by the death of a three-year-old girl who got her neck caught in a rope at the college nursery in September 2012.

Unfortunately, it has taken the death of a three-year-old girl to expose the flaws in their health and safety practice…”

York College was found guilty of health and safety breaches over the death of Lydia Bishop, who became entangled while going down a slide on her first day at the nursery.

Alison Birkinshaw, York College principal, said: “This has been an extremely difficult period for all involved and we remain devastated by the awful events of September 17, 2012.

“We deeply regret what happened and can’t begin to imagine the pain experienced by Lydia’s family and everyone affected by this terrible tragedy. They remain constantly in our thoughts.”
A Leeds Crown Court jury heard Lydia lay unnoticed for 20 minutes before any attempt to revive her.

They heard safety measures to stop children using ropes alone or going unsupervised to a slide had not been enforced.

It emerged that the rope that had been left tied to the slide against health and safety policy.

The college was found guilty of failing to ensure the safety of babies, toddlers and pre-school children at its nursery between August 1 and September 18, 2012.

“The governing body and all at York College fully respect the legal judgements made in this case and remain committed to learning from this tragedy,” said Dr Birkinshaw.

“The college took the decision to close the nursery immediately after the tragedy, and it will not reopen.”

Nursery worker Sophee Redhead, aged 25, from York, was cleared of the charges against her at the end of the three-week trial. She had been accused of manslaughter by gross negligence and faced an alternative charge of failing to ensure Lydia’s health and safety.

Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Costello, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “This was an extremely tragic case for all concerned, not least for Lydia’s family who have been left devastated by the loss of their daughter.

“It is only right that a full investigation into her death was conducted to provide her family with some answers and to establish if there was a criminal case to answer.

“Unfortunately, it has taken the death of a three-year-old girl to expose the flaws in their health and safety practices and I hope this case serves as a warning to other organisations that it isn’t enough to just have a procedure written down.”

Judge Mr Justice Coulson said the college would be sentenced on Friday, February 14.