Nursery fined over toddler death

Nursery bosses in Essex have been ordered to pay out £220,000 following the death of a toddler.

Two-year-old Rhiya Malin was discovered hanging in the roof of a playhouse, in the garden at Eton Manor Nursery, Roding Lane, Chigwell, on 7 November 2007.

Kayley Murphy, an assistant at the nursery who was found guilty of failing to take responsibility for people at work, was also fined £2,400.

It's thought that Rhiya may have climbed onto a scooter inside the playhouse, and then got her head trapped in the roof space.

The court was told that she died of a heart attack as a result of the compression of blood vessels.

She was not observed going into the playhouse and staff only realised she was missing when they took the other children back into class.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard that Miss Murphy, 25, of Greenfields, Loughton, had been seen chatting on her mobile four times in the half hour before the girl was discovered.

The companies that own the nursery, Casterbridge Care and Education and Casterbridge Day Nurseries, both of Great Portland Street, London, which had admitted a breach of health and safety rules, were jointly fined £150,000 with £70,000 costs.

As she imposed the fines Judge Walden-Smith said: "Rhiya Malin was very young and therefore highly vulnerable and the business was as a nursery where the care of children is paramount.

"The companies failed in their core obligation and the breaches at the nursery were not a one-off.

"It was entirely foreseeable the failure to comply with health and safety obligations including providing adequate supervision, would place children at risk of potentially serious injury."