In a tragic case involving a child and her nursery school, York College (the school) was found guilty last week of health and safety breaches that lead to the death of three-year-old Lydia Bishop in 2012.
At the end of a three-week trial at Leeds Crown Court, a jury reached a verdict yesterday that York College had failed to instigate adequate health and safety regulations before Lydia Bishop was found with a rope around her neck whilst playing outside on her first full day attending York College Nursery.
Nursery worker Sophie Redhead, was originally accused of manslaughter by gross negligence and of failing to take ‘reasonable care’ of the child under health and safety legislation. She was acquitted of both charges, and broke down in tears.
However, during the trial the court heard that little Miss Bishop was left for 20 minutes before being discovered on an outdoor slide with a rope entangled around her neck. The slide was meant to have been taken down. The court heard that there had been two accidents a few months previously on the rope attached to the same slide.
Rules posted on the nursery walls said no children should be allowed to play on the slide without an adult supervising and the rope should be put away when staff were not present. Tragically, the court heard that Lydia was alone and under no supervision when she got her neck caught in the slide.
York College closed the nursery in September 2012 after Lydia died and has said it will not re-open.
York College will be sentenced by the trial’s judge, Mr Justice Coulson, on Friday 14th February.
Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Costello, of North Yorkshire Police, said Lydia’s death had been an “extremely tragic case for all concerned”, and added: “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.”
Heath & Safety legislation is there to protect us all. The message is clear. Employers should follow in practice the procedure they lay down. It is there for a purpose. The result of not doing so can be devastating.