THE nursery assistant accused of the manslaughter of three-year-old Lydia Bishop has been left “carrying the can for failures higher up”, a court has heard.
Sophee Redhead, 25, denies the manslaughter of Lydia by gross negligence at the York College nursery in September 2012.
Her barrister, Alistair MacDonald, told jurors yesterday that Lydia’s death had been blamed entirely upon Redhead’s failure to supervise the child, as he made his closing statement at Leeds Crown Court.
“They have hung Sophee out to dry,” he added.
The college is also standing trial for failing to ensure the safety of children at the nursery, which it denies.
Mr MacDonald said his client had sat in the dock alone throughout the three-week trial despite there being another defendant in the case, York College, and had been brave enough to take the witness stand while senior managers had not.
He also spoke of another nursery worker who was in the outdoor play area at the same time as Redhead when Lydia died, and the workers who earlier left a rope tied to the slide with a loop or noose in it.
“Why is the college not being prosecuted for gross negligent manslaughter? Why is Sophee Redhead the only one?” he said.
Earlier Mr MacDonald spoke of Redhead’s good character and the high esteem in which her colleagues and the parents of the children she cared for held her.
He said the charge she faced did not fit in with what they knew of her.
“Sophee Redhead bears an unblemished character.
“Every single person who has given evidence about her speaks with one voice. No one had a bad word to say about her.
“In her working life she was dedicated to the care of the children in the nursery. She loved her job as she loved the children.”
He said: “You only have to observe Sophee Redhead sitting alone in the dock, pale and drawn. You just have to take one look to realise the toll this tragedy has taken.”
Mr MacDonald told the jurors of the “box-ticking self-congratulatory” health and safety audit a college manager drew up for the nursery without visiting the site.
He said managers did not do enough to make sure health and safety procedures were implemented, and did not heed staff calls for a fence and gate to stop children going on the slide unsupervised, which he said would have prevented the tragedy.
The trial continues today.