Genevieve Meehan: Infection which led to hospital admission ‘had no material role in baby’s death’

Tiny Toes Nursery in Cheadle Hulme

A viral infection which led to a hospital admission had “no material role” in the death of a baby girl who was strapped face down to a nursery bean bag for more than 90 minutes, a court has heard.

Genevieve Meehan spent more than a week in hospital in April 2022 where she was treated for symptoms of “RSV bronchiolitis”, described as a “very common viral illness in young children”.

She was discharged home to parents John Meehan and Katie Wheeler on April 30 and provided with an inhaler.

Genevieve returned to Tiny Toes Nursery in Cheadle Hulme, Stockport, on May 5 and 6 before on the afternoon of May 9 she was found unresponsive and blue by nursery nurse Kate Roughley, 37, who is accused of her manslaughter by ill treatment.

Roughley, who was also a deputy manager at the nursery, had swaddled the youngster in a blanket and put her on her front on to the bean bag.

She then fastened a strap across Genevieve’s back before she later placed another cover over her.

The prosecution say Roughley’s interest in Genevieve’s wellbeing after that was “sporadic and, at best, fleeting” and that the child’s cries, distress and efforts to move or reposition herself were ignored.

In a statement read on Tuesday at her trial at Manchester Crown Court, consultant respiratory paediatrician Dr Mark Rosenthal said: “While Genevieve’s length of stay in hospital was above average for RSV bronchiolitis it was nothing extraordinary.

“I would say that Genevieve was not on discharge, at her age, any more vulnerable to a sudden and unexpected death than the rest of the infant population as a result of the admission.

“I concluded that the viral bronchiolitis and prior hospital admission had no material role in Genevieve’s death.”

Jurors were told that Genevieve’s parents said their daughter was “snotty” on May 9 before she was taken to the nursery but “otherwise was her normal self”.

Roughley, of Heaton Norris, Stockport, denies manslaughter and an alternative count of child cruelty.

Last week the jury was told by her barrister, Sarah Elliott KC, that Roughley’s case was that Genevieve’s death was a “tragic and unavoidable accident”.

The trial continues.