Lydia Bishop trial verdict warning

York Press: Sophee Redhead Sophee Redhead

THE jury in the Lydia Bishop trial have been told not to let hindsight or their emotions over the child’s death affect their verdicts.

The 12 jurors have to decide whether nursery worker Sophee Redhead is guilty of the manslaughter of the three-year-old by gross negligence and whether York College is guilty of failing to ensure the safety of babies, toddlers and pre-school children at its nursery.

The jury have heard that Lydia died on her first day at the nursery on September 17, 2012, when she became entangled in a rope on a slide and lay there for 20 minutes before staff saw her and tried to revive her.

They also heard a college health and safety risk assessment, included measures aimed at preventing children being strangled by ropes.

Redhead, 25, of Wenham Road, Foxwood, York, denies manslaughter and an alternative charge of failure to ensure Lydia’s health and safety on September 17.

York College denies failure to ensure the health and safety of children at the nursery between August 1, 2012, and September 18, 2012. Summing up at Leeds Crown Court, Mr Justice Coulson told the jurors: “Any case involving the death of a young child is deeply upsetting.

“You must put these emotions firmly to one side and consider the facts coolly and calmly on the basis of the evidence you have heard.”

The judge said among the issues the jurors had to decide was whether Redhead knew or ought to have known that the rope was attached to the slide and whether her actions on September 17 fell “far below the standard” expected of an early years’ practitioner in her position and, whether if she did, her behaviour was such that it should be considered a crime.

They did not have to decide whether or not if she had been in any way “callous”.

He warned the jury: “It is important to guard against hindsight. The fact that we now know that Lydia became fatally entangled in the rope is immaterial to what was and wasn’t reasonably practical.”

He said the jury had to consider what systems were in place, the relevant reporting procedures and how the systems were monitored.

The judge warned the jury against speculation as to what may or may not have been said by people who did not give evidence.

Neither the college principal Dr Alison Birkinshaw, nor its health and safety manager David Jackson gave evidence, although Dr Birkinshaw gave a prepared statement to the police before being interviewed.

The judge said the statement had not been tested in cross-examination. Other college staff, who were “not hostile” to their employer, had given evidence for the prosecution.

The judge is now summing up the evidence given in the three-week trial before sending the jury out to consider their verdicts.

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