'Everyday I get punched with sadness': Six-year-old sister of baby killed at nursery pays tribute

Genevieve Meehan. Credit: Family photograph

The older sister of a baby killed by a nursery worker after being strapped face down to a bean bag says "every day I get punched with sadness".

Genevieve Meehan was strapped face down on a bean bag for more than 90 minutes at her nursery in Cheadle Hulme by nursery worker Kate Roughley.

The nine-month-old was further restrained with a harness and then covered with a blanket.

Roughley, 37, was jailed for 14 years for her manslaughter.

In a victim impact statement by Genevieve's mother Katie Wheeler - read out in court by prosecutor Martin Reid KC – Ms Wheeler said: “Gigi’s big sister wants me to say this on her behalf.

"Every day I get punched with sadness. What this lady has done is terrible - nobody should experience this.

"My younger sister should have the experience of having two older sisters and I should have both of my sisters.

"This has changed my family's life forever."

Kate Roughley was jailed for 14 years. Credit: Greater Manchester Police

Ms Wheeler told the court that her love for Genevieve, known affectionately as Gigi, started “the moment I found out I was pregnant because I was so desperate to have her”.

She said: “It had been a very difficult pregnancy because I had pre-eclampsia and Gigi was born early and was so tiny at just over three pounds.”

Ms Wheeler said she was only allowed to hold her daughter for a short time before she was transferred to intensive care and later moved to Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, closer to the family home.

She said: “I remember so vividly the day she was taken there by transport ambulance. I walked with her in the incubator until she was in the ambulance and I felt bereft but I also felt hopeful because this was one step closer to taking her home and starting our lives together which I was desperate to do.

“It haunts me that just over nine months later, Gi was dying in an ambulance on the way to the same hospital that we had driven to so full of hope for the future in those early days.

“Gi was at such a wonderful age when she died. She was so interactive with her sister and she smiled and laughed all the time..

“We had booked our first family holiday for July and some of the girls’ holiday clothes had arrived the day before Gigi died. She tried on her sunglasses and her swimming costume that Sunday afternoon.

“My heart aches when I look at her things and think of all the love, opportunities and life she will never experience.”

She told the court she held her daughter in hospital for hours after she died and that she did not want to let go.

Tiny Toes nursery in Cheadle Hulme. Credit: ITV News

Ms Wheeler said: “In those moments I lost every bit of myself. I lost who I had been in the years before and became the person I am now. Dead inside. Completely incapable of living and completely alien from the world around me.

“I am surrounded by life but consumed by death. I have to pretend to be a normal person and I live for my children but that is all.

“This has destroyed my family. Having to tell my six-year-old daughter that her sister had died and would never come home was unbearable.

“I want the world to know how loved Gigi is and how desperate I am to have her, hold her, hear her breath in my ear and for her to have her cheek next to mine.

“My little Gigi was and is a beautiful soul, the image of her daddy and the light of our lives.”

Reading his statement from the witness box, Genevieve’s father, barrister John Meehan, told Roughley: “Your actions have shattered my heart and my soul.

“Like an incomplete jigsaw, no matter how many times I try to put myself back together there is always a piece missing.

“Because of your actions her little body suffered the gross indignity of invasive CPR and a post-mortem.

“I suffered the indignity of seeing her in a mortuary. We have all suffered the indignity and horror of a police investigation which traumatised us afresh every day.

“You have shown no remorse at all for the loss of her life and the destruction you have wrought in the lives of everyone who loved her. You could have taken responsibility for what you did but you have chosen not to.

“Your only concern has been to do anything you could to avoid responsibility. You are a cold, callous and cruel person.

“For you, there will be no redemption and no legacy. You will be never anything other than a child killer.

“However, my daughter will have a legacy. Her name will live on. Through us, her kindness and passion will help others.

“I am so proud of her and that is why, for as long as I am living, I will never stop saying I have a beautiful daughter and her name is Genevieve.”

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