UK: Nursery worker who strapped baby face down to a bean bag and left them guilty of manslaughter

A nursery worker who strapped a nine-month-old baby face down to a beanbag and left her for 90 minutes has been found guilty of manslaughter.

Kate Roughley, 37, put Genevieve Meehan in “mortal danger” as a “punishment”, the trial heard.

The child died from asphyxiation at Tiny Toes nursery in Cheadle Hulme, Stockport, on 9 May 2022.

A pathologist told the jury “a very unsafe sleeping environment” led to her death.

The jury heard that Genevieve had been swaddled and face down on the beanbag when she became unwell.

Roughley told the trial that the beanbag was regularly used for babies when the six cots in the room were full.

She said the straps were to stop babies falling off the beanbag and they were not tight.

In his closing speech to the jury before they were sent out last week, Peter Wright KC said Roughley had “brought about” the child’s death with her “deliberate conduct”.

He said: “Genevieve was being punished for her earlier perceived misdemeanours, for not sleeping long enough for her liking.

“She was being banished to the beanbag and restrained.

“It was a recipe for disaster, and disaster there followed.”

Roughley was found guilty of unlawful act manslaughter by a unanimous jury of six men and six women.

Some jurors were in tears at the start of the trial as they first watched nursery CCTV footage of the baby room which captured the tragedy unfolding as Genevieve was left “virtually immobilised” from 13:35 to 15:12 BST.

Mr Wright said the youngster’s “desperate fight for survival” was clear, but her crying and the thrashing and writhing of her body were routinely and repeatedly ignored.

Roughley paid “lip service” to any meaningful checks and Genevieve’s wellbeing until it was too late, he said.

Her actions were said to be fuelled by an “illogical and disturbing hostility” towards the youngster which was revealed on further CCTV footage from 5 and 6 May.

The prosecution said she was subjected to “rough handling” by Roughley, who told the baby: “Genevieve go home. Do you have to be so loud and constant? Change the record.”

Giving evidence Roughley admitted she appeared “impatient” on the CCTV footage.

She said she sang songs or made up rhymes about some babies, and Genevieve in particular, to “entertain them”.

The jury was told that she sang: “Genevieve, Genevieve, stop your whingeing, Genevieve” on one occasion.

And on another, Genevieve rolled over on her side and Ms Roughley picked her up, saying, “Sit up properly, stress head”.

She told the court there was “no malice in it” and that was “just a throwaway comment”.