CHILDREN had been involved in two accidents with rope on a slide weeks before a three-year-old girl was fatally injured in the same place, a jury heard.
Nursery nurse Lyndsay Harrison alleged she was so concerned about two incidents on the same day in July 2012 at York College’s nursery, that she took two ropes off the slide and put them in a shed out of children’s reach.
They were so tightly woven round the slide structure that it took her ten minutes to remove them, she alleged. She claimed that when she returned to work after a summer break on September 17, she saw a similar rope attached to the slide.
“I thought if there is going to be a session on it with lots of children it will cause more accidents, because the last time I had seen it, it had caused two small accidents,” she told the jury at Leeds Crown Court.
The jury have heard that on the afternoon of September 17, three-year-old Lydia Bishop was alone and unsupervised at the slide when she caught her neck in a rope and was strangled. They have seen CCTV of the slide area at different times of September 17 showing a rope attached to the slide and apparently without a rope on the slide’s mound.
They have heard that police removed a 16-metre rope from the slide after the death. The nursery staff member responsible for initially drawing up health and safety risk assessments, Jill Corrigan, said she was “astounded” to learn there was a rope that long in the nursery.
Sophee Redhead, 25, of Wenham Road in Foxwood, York, who was allegedly in charge of the older children including Lydia on September 17, denies manslaughter by gross negligence and York College denies a health and safety offence.
Miss Harrison, a qualified infant teacher who worked on a supply basis at the nursery, alleged the July accidents were caused by children being boisterous and led to minor injuries. She feared the rope in September could cause harm by children falling on their head as they pulled themselves up the mound containing the slide with it.
She also alleged she was not told of what precautions the nursery had in place regarding the use of ropes.
Ms Corrigan, who had worked at the nursery for 21 years, said she had a “basic” health and safety certificate gained at the college involving a two-day course in risk assessment and she had had a health and safety role at the nursery for five years.
She agreed that she “took comfort” when drawing up risk assessments that they were sent to her manager Liz Radford and the college’s health and safety advisor David Jackson.
She agreed with defence suggestions that Ms Radford, not her, was responsible for ensuring health and safety control measures were implemented and checking that they were carried out.
And she alleged she was surprised to hear that her role in the nursery included being Ms Radford’s “eyes and ears”. Ms Radford had claimed earlier in the trial that all three of the room supervisors including Ms Corrigan, were her “eyes and ears” regarding health and safety.
The trial continues.