Cheadle Hulme nursery where baby was found unresponsive ‘badly ran’, witness tells court

Nursery nurse Kate Roughley, 37, is accused of the manslaughter by ill treatment of nine-month-old Genevieve Meehan. Credit: MEN Media

A nursery where a baby girl was found unresponsive after she was strapped face down to a bean bag for more than 90 minutes was “badly ran”, a former staff member has told a jury.

Nursery nurse Kate Roughley, 37, is accused of the manslaughter by ill treatment of nine-month-old Genevieve Meehan who she cared for at the Tiny Toes Nursery in Cheadle Hulme, Stockport.

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

She then fastened a strap across Genevieve’s back before she later placed another cover over her, during the incident on 9 May 2022.

Staff and paramedics performed chest compressions on her following the discovery but were unable to revive Genevieve and she died at hospital later the same afternoon.

Tiny Toes Nursery, Cheadle Credit: MEN media

Megan Goldsby told the court she was working on 9 May as a nursery practitioner in the toddler room at the nursery where she had worked since 2018.

Asked by prosecutor Martin Reid KC to summarise her view on how the nursery operated, she replied: “Not great. It was very badly ran. We had too many children.

“For my room it was one staff to three children.

“They are Ofsted guidelines. At the very start it was close, it was not that bad but it gradually got worse.”

She said policies on staffing ratios were not followed and “did not reflect reality”.

Mr Reid asked: “What was your understanding of how children should be placed asleep?”

Ms Goldsby said: “On their backs with a blanket just below their shoulders. In the toddler room they would be placed on floor mats or cots.”

She told the court that a week before the incident with Genevieve she recalled a child had been placed to sleep on a strapless bean bag on their side because it was the “only option” after they had not settled in a cot or floor mat.

Kate Roughley, 37, is on trial at Manchester Crown Court.

The witness said the bean bag in the baby room had “little straps on the front so you could secure them in”.

Mr Reid said: “How did you understand a baby would be placed in it?”

Ms Goldsby said: “Facing forward”.

Nursery nurse Lydia Wakefield, who had worked at Tiny Toes for 20 years, said she had never put young children or babies to sleep on a bean bag.

Jurors previously heard that 11 children were in the baby room on 9 May with Roughley and an assistant the only members of staff visible for most of the day, while on 6 May there were 16 babies in attendance including Genevieve.

Catherine Knowles, an independent children’s social work consultant, stated to the court the available floor space was “not sufficient”.

She said: “The whole set-up of this baby room was not conducive to a caring, nurturing or learning environment.

“In general there was no structured set-up for play activities.”

She said CCTV footage within the nursery showed the falling short of the recommended number of adult carers to children “appears to be the norm”.

The expert said the safest sleeping position for a baby was on their backs and not on their front or side, and that “under no circumstances” should a baby’s head or face be covered.She said she “firmly believed” Genevieve’s death was “totally avoidable”.

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

The trial continues.