A THREE-year-old girl who died on her first day at a nursery after getting her neck caught in a rope on a slide was undiscovered for 20 minutes, a court heard today.

Lydia Bishop was blue and not breathing by the time 25-year-old nursery worker Sophee Redhead scooped her up from the outdoor play area at York Colleges nursery, Leeds Crown Court heard.

She denies manslaughter by gross negligence and the alternative charge under health and safety legislation of failing to take reasonable care of the little girl.

Loading article content

York College, which operated the nursery for children of staff, students and members of the public, denies failing to ensure people not in their employment are not exposed to a risk to their health and safety.

Robert Smith QC, prosecuting, said: "Lydia was left entirely to her own devices for what was to be a prolonged period.

"Some 20 minutes passed during which no member of staff, nor Sophee Redhead, did anything to investigate where Lydia was.

"Only when a member of staff discovered she was not in the building or directly outside did anyone appreciate she may have come to some harm.

"Sophee Redhead ran in panic and found Lydia in the slide with a rope coiled around her neck.

"She was carried into the nursery. She was not breathing and she was blue in colour."

All efforts to revive her failed, the jury heard.

Quoting medical opinion, the barrister said: "It was likely Lydia would have recovered fully if she had been found within a few minutes."

Lydia's death in the loop of rope was "completely avoidable" had proper measures been taken to protect her, Mr Smith said.

Earlier in the day, Lydia and other children were caught on camera playing unsupervised on the slide.

Her mother Rebecca Dick had just enrolled on a course at the college. The day Lydia died was her first full day at the nursery, the jury was told.

Despite a risk assessment identifying ropes to be a potential hazard to children, they were not put away every night, and had been left tied to the slide for weeks or months before Lydia died, Mr Smith said.

He accused the nursery of having a "tick box mentality" towards health and safety, which meant legislation was followed on paper but not in practice.

A wooden bench was placed on the path to the slide at times when children were not supposed to play on it, but they could simply crawl underneath to get past, Mr Smith said.

The case against Ms Redhead, of Wenham Road in Foxwood, York, was that she saw Lydia walk towards the slide, but took no action to prevent her from going on it, Mr Smith said.

The case continues.