Baby girl showed 'genuine fear' after being strapped her down at Stockport nursery

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

A jury was told a baby girl was in ‘genuine fear’ as a nursery worker strapped her face down on a bean bag prior to her death.

Kate Roughley, 37, is accused of the manslaughter of nine-month-old Genevieve Meehan, who died following an incident at the former Tiny Toes Nursery in Cheadle Hulme, Stockport.

Ms Roughley, deputy manager at the nursery, is alleged to have swaddled the baby in a blanket and put her to sleep on her front onto the bean bag on May 9 2022.

She then fastened a strap across Genevieve's back before she later placed another cover over her, prosecutors allege.

Staff and paramedics carried out chest compressions on the child but sadly they were unable to revive her.

Genevieve was pronounced dead at Stepping Hill Hospital later the same afternoon.

A former worker told the court there had been "too many children" attending Tiny Toes Nursery. Credit: ITV News

On Thursday (April 25), Dr Joanna Garstang, a consultant paediatrician who specialises in safeguarding children and infant death, gave evidence to the court.

She told jurors about ‘Safe Sleep Guidance’ issued by the NHS on protecting babies and children from accidental suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

“The basics are the ABC of safe sleep - Always put your baby on their back in a clear cot,” Dr Garstang said.

“From newborn until the point of time when the baby chooses to roll themselves over and find a different sleeping position."

"By about one year, most babies will choose to sleep on their front, often with their knees tucked under their chest."

“It is safe in the provision they are sleeping on a firm, flat surface - by that I mean a cot mattress.”

She said a blanket must go up to the shoulders of the child, to allow them to move their arms if they need to. “The important thing is the blanket doesn’t go above their head,” she added.

Asked about swaddling a child by prosecutor Peter Wright KC, she said that babies must be on their back as they can roll and must have their arms free so they can ‘get themselves back’.

“A baby of Genevieve’s age should not be swaddled with their arms in ever and no baby should ever be swaddled and placed face down,” Dr Garstang added.

She told jurors a bean bag was ‘not a safe space’ for a baby to sleep because it is soft and could block their airways or make them 'very hot'.

Asked if there is risk of accidental suffocation on a bean bag, she replied: “Completely.

Particularly if a baby is on their front, face down, because the bean bag moulds themselves around them.

They don’t get as much fresh air, they breathe out and end up breathing in a high level of carbon dioxide and potentially a low level of oxygen.

“If a baby is lying on a bean bag and starts moving lots, particularly if they are distressed, they are likely to sink further into the bean bag.”

“What then is a risk?,” the prosecutor asked.

“There is a high risk of death "

A baby swaddled with their arms in, strapped face down on a bean bag, they are absolutely trapped, and if they sink into the bean bag they are completely unable to get out of that situation,” Dr Garstang said.

“It’s incredibly dangerous - any baby in that situation has a really high risk of dying."

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

Speaking about CCTV footage showing Ms Roughley's interactions with the child, Dr Garstang said: “There seemed to be rough handling, a lack of care, a lack of love - nurturing care."

“A baby such as Genevieve is completely dependent on adults to look after her, therefore adults have to anticipate the baby's needs and be caring and nurturing towards them. I didn’t see that."

"I saw rough handling and lack of caring and awareness of a little baby’s needs."

“If Genevieve was lying on her back in a cot, she would not have died.”

She described Genevieve as ‘thrashing her legs’ for about 25 minutes before she stopped moving altogether.

“I think she was very distressed because she was uncomfortable, she would have recognised she couldn’t breathe, she would have become scared," the doctor added."This was genuine fear."

Dr Garstand added that at the point Genevieve was seen to stop moving on the CCTV footage, it was likely she was ‘dead’.

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

The trial continues.

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