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Nursery worker guilty of manslaughter following death of nine-month-old baby

|News, Violent crime

A nursery worker has been found guilty of the manslaughter of a nine-month-old baby in her care.

Kate Roughley, 37, from Stockport, denied being responsible for the death of Genevieve Meehan, who died after being left face down, tightly swaddled and strapped to a bean bag for more than 90 minutes at Tiny Toes nursery in Cheadle Hume, Stockport.

However, a jury today found her guilty of manslaughter following a trial at Manchester Crown Court.

Karen Tonge, Specialist Prosecutor for CPS North West’s Complex Casework Unit, said: “Genevieve Meehan was nine months and 21 days old when her life was so cruelly cut short.

“The CCTV footage from the nursery’s baby room showed a complete lack of care and tenderness towards Genevieve, and a total disregard for her welfare. For some inexplicable reason, Kate Roughley had taken a dislike to Genevieve, and this was clear for all to hear and see.

“Roughley, a trained and experienced nursery worker, must have known the dangers of placing Genevieve face down on a bean bag. She was tightly swaddled, buckled in and had a blanket placed over her. She was left unattended, and her cries and obvious signs of distress were repeatedly ignored.

“Roughley was entrusted to take care of Genevieve. It is difficult to comprehend how someone in such a position of trust could have such a complete disregard for a child’s wellbeing and life. Her actions and inactions have had devastating consequences.

“I can’t begin to imagine the toll this has taken and will continue to take on Genevieve’s family. My thoughts are with them all.”

Police and paramedics were called to Tiny Toes Day Nursery on 9 May 2022 following reports of an unresponsive baby.

When they arrived, at around 3.20pm, Genevieve was not breathing. Despite the best efforts of the police and paramedics at the scene, and later the medical staff at Stepping Hill Hospital, Genevieve could not be revived.

A police investigation began to establish the cause of Genevieve’s death.

Roughley, who was in charge of the nursery’s baby room that day, misled police officers at the scene, claiming she had checked on Genevieve regularly, at least every five minutes.

CCTV footage showed adequate checks were not made and that Roughley had failed to make safe sleep arrangements for her.

Genevieve had been left for more than 90 minutes with minimal, if any, supervision. Roughley deliberately ignored her cries and struggles as she lay unable to move, face down on the bean bag.

There were multiple opportunities for Roughley to have prevented Genevieve’s death.

The footage from the days leading up to her death contained clear examples of Roughley’s ill-feeling towards Genvieve.

Roughley, who had 17 years’ experience as a caregiver, showed no genuine care or compassion towards her. She was heard singing: “Genevieve go home” and referred to her as “vile”.

On another occasion, when Genevieve was crying, Roughley could be heard on the footage to say: “stop your whinging.”

At 1.35pm on the day Genevieve died, the video footage from the baby room showed Roughley putting her down for a sleep. She could be heard on the footage saying to a colleague: “rather just put her on the bean bag, then I’m not wasting a cot.”

Experts who gave evidence at the trial described the bean bag as being wholly unsuitable for sleep.

They told the court the circumstances of Genevieve being placed on the bean bag were highly dangerous with a high risk of death and had she been placed on her back in a cot she would not have died.

National guidelines, nursery guidelines and product information were all ignored.

From the moment Genevieve was placed on the bean bag until Roughley found her unresponsive at 3.12pm only cursory checks were made on the child. This was despite the crying that could be heard, Genevieve’s increasing leg movements and her lifting her head in order to breathe.

The prosecution argued it would have been obvious Genevieve was in distress.

Earlier in the day, Roughley told her colleague she was tidying up because she knew Genevieve was screaming and if she kept herself busy she would not be able to hear her cries.

When Roughley realised Genevieve was not breathing, she released her from the restraint, turned her onto her back and raised the alarm.

A pathologist concluded Genevieve died as a result of asphyxia and pathophysiological stress due to an unsafe sleeping environment.

Roughley pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and child cruelty, claiming she had placed Genevieve to sleep on her side and in a safe position. She maintained that her death was a “terrible, unavoidable accident”.

Following the guilty verdict on 20 May 2024, she will be sentenced on 22 May 2024.

Notes to editors

  • Kate Roughley, date of birth 04/03/1987, is from Stockport, Greater Manchester.

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