Child killing nursery worker called nine-month-old Genevieve Meehan a stress head whinger days before her death

Genevieve Meehan was just nine-months-old when she was killed by Katie Roughley
Genevieve Meehan was just nine-months-old when she was killed by Katie Roughley -Credit:Men Media

A nursery worker has been jailed for 14 years after being found guilty of the manslaughter of a baby in her care.

Kate Roughley, 37, swaddled nine-month-old Genevieve Meehan and strapped her down on a bean bag before leaving her for an hour-and-a-half while she was caring for her in her role as deputy manager and "baby room leader" at Tiny Toes Nursery in Cheadle Hulme, Stockport, in May 2022.

Manchester Crown Court heard Roughley had shown "hostility" towards Genevieve in the days before her death. She was overheard on CCTV telling the crying child to 'stop your whinging', calling her a "stress head" and singing "Genevieve, go home... Genevieve, go home."

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The Manchester Evening News reports that on May 9, 2022, Genevieve's parents dropped her off at the nursery. Her mum told her: "I love you, sweetie." Less than an hour later, Roughley swaddled Genevieve and put her in a cot face down with a blanket pulled over her.

Roughley then placed a sheet over the far end of the cot, restricting the child's visibility. Later, at around 1.30pm, she then tightly swaddled Genevieve in a blanket, wrapping her arms and legs inside and placed her face down on a bean bag before strapping her down with a harness.

Kate Roughley at Manchester Crown Court
Kate Roughley at Manchester Crown Court -Credit:PA

Genevieve, known by her parents as Gigi, was unable to move and face down from 1.35pm to 3.12pm as Roughley ignored her distressed cries. She eventually checked on her, finding her blue and unconscious and raised the alarm. Staff - then paramedics - attempted to revive Genevieve, but her condition was irreversible. She was pronounced dead later that day at Stepping Hill hospital, with her cause of death recorded as a combination of asphyxia and 'pathophysiological stress'.

Following a four-week trial, Roughley was unanimously found guilty of manslaughter by jurors on Monday, May 20. She denied the offence; and an alternate offence of child cruelty.

At a sentencing hearing on Wednesday, prosecutor Martin Reid KC read a victim personal statement from Genevieve's mum Katie Wheeler. She said: "My love for Genevieve started from the moment we found out I was pregnant. It was a privilege to carry her in my womb. I am haunted that nine months later she was dying in an ambulance.

"My love for her can simple not be put into words. Words are simply inadequate. Baby Gigi and her sister were inseparable. Their relationship was beautiful. Her sister did everything with me. My life was complete with my children.

"I feel so ashamed and I was ignorant at the time at what was to come. As mother mother, I feel I should known she was going to die. In hospital I ran to her and saw her lying on the bed surrounded by more doctors than I had ever seen. I held her for hours after she died until she felt heavy and her face started to change. I did not want to let her go.

Tiny Toes Children's Day Nursery in Cheadle Hulme, Stockport, Greater Manchester
Tiny Toes Children's Day Nursery in Cheadle Hulme, Stockport, Greater Manchester -Credit:MEN Media

"I am dead inside and incapable of living. She is my little girl, she lived inside me - she is a part of me. I want the world to know how loved she was, and how desperate I am to hold her, to feel her cheek next to mine. My little Gigi was - and is - a beautiful soul, the image of her Daddy and the light of our lives."

Ms Wheeler said of Roughley: "She has lied throughout this trial. We found her evidence without compassion grossly insulting, and had to listen to lie after lie about Genevieve. None of it was true, despite out daughter's distress so clear on CCTV. She was discussed as a piece of evidence - she was a person, she had a happy life and full of promise, that was destroyed."

Dad John Meehan, addressing the court and Roughley, said: "I have a beautiful daughter, her name is Genevieve. She won't get to experience those moments that make life so wonderful.

"Your callous disregard for her life. I will never comfort her when she is nervous on the first day of school. I won't be able to pick her up and hold her when she has fallen. I will not hear her first words.

"Your actions have shattered my heart and soul. I have a beautiful daughter, her name is Genevieve. She did not know, either could we, every interaction for you with her was in inconvenience to you. You put your personal convenience above her. Because of your actions her little body suffered gross indecency of invasive CPR and post mortem. You have shown no remorse at all for her life. You could have taken responsibility.

The nursery nurse strapped Genevieve face down on to a bean bag for more than a hour and a half and also tightly swaddled and covered her with a blanket
The nursery nurse strapped Genevieve face down on to a bean bag for more than a hour and a half and also tightly swaddled and covered her with a blanket -Credit:PA

"You are cold and callous and cruel. I have a beautiful daughter and her name is Genevieve. I could not have known, someone paid and trusted to provide her care, that she was not to receive that cadre. She loved to laugh, spend time with her sister, she loved to play with a tambourine, and to play with her dog.

"To you, you have no legacy. You are a child killer. She has a legacy. I am so proud of her, and for as long as I am living I will always say 'I have a beautiful daughter and her name is Genevieve'."

Mitigating for Roughley, Sarah Elliott KC said: "She says Genevieve is always her first thought in the day, and her remorse for Genevieve's family. She went straight away to get help for her."

She added that the court pays mind to her 'unblemished' record at the nursery, and her work with children with disabilities. "Her behaviour should be seen in context of gross understaffing and inadequate support," she added. "It's highly likely when she faces reality of situation, she will need assistance with that."

"What has happened will have a serious impact on her for quite some time," Ms Elliott added. "This is quite clearly an appalling case and she will receive a lengthy custodial experience. Nothing said on her behalf is sought to minimise the impact on the family of Genevieve. It is also right to say Kate Roughley's life is ruined by what she has done.

Roughley was found guilty of manslaughter
Roughley was found guilty of manslaughter -Credit:MEN Media

"She is devastated by her actions. She is not a monster. We accept the dreadful impact this has had and will always have on Genevieve's family. We submit that the court should not accept she was cold-hearted and callous. More accurately described as careless, unthinking and exasperated. The behaviour of a woman at the end of her tether. She undoubtedly failed Genevieve - she also failed herself."

Ms Elliott KC said the court should consider whether Roughley was failed by senior leaders at the 'dangerously understaffed' nursery.

Mrs Justice Ellenbogen told Roughley: "Genevieve Zofia Meehan - she was adored by her parents and wider family. She was enrolled at Tiny Toes Nursery. She died whilst in your charge.

"During the afternoon you put Genevieve down to sleep on a beanbag, tightly swaddled her, restricting her ability to move and placed a blanket over her. As harrowing video and audio shows, you left her, only carrying out the most cursory of checks, her increasing distress most apparent. She can be seen desperately moving her body and crying and coughing. In doing so, she sank further into the soft beanbag because exhausted and overheated.

"I am certain that every person in this courtroom was willing you to pick her up and remove her from danger from where you placed her - knowing that you would not.

Genevieve was known as Gigi to her family
Genevieve was known as Gigi to her family -Credit:Men Media

"By its verdict, the jury has rejected your evidence. Had you conducted... checks, Genevieve's distress would have been abundantly apparent. Mere visible checks from a distance were woefully inadequate.

"From the CCTV it is apparent, at best, you considered Genevieve to be a nuisance and displayed apathy towards her. On morning 9 May you berated her for only sleeping for 20 minutes having called her 'vile'.

"She was placed on a beanbag, notwithstanding her kicking wriggling, her tears, you failed to check. Her crying intensified, carrying a grunting tone, even then you didn't approach her, pick her up or show concern for her welfare. You left her to die.

"Your interactions with her showed you palpably lacked any care for her. I accept the staff to child ratio fell below national standards. But that did not bring about circumstances in which you put her to sleep. At your hands, her parents and grandparents have lost their sunny funny little girls. Last photo of her shows a bright happy baby. By your callous acts you have deprived her of her life. Her mother describes how Genevieve and her sister had become inseparable."

Mrs Justice Ellenbogen said there was little mitigation, adding: "You have steadfastly refused to acknowledge any action of yours that caused her death."

Genevieve Meehan
Genevieve Meehan -Credit:Men Media

She said her comments about having Genevieve in her thoughts showed 'no genuine remorse'. Roughley, of Basil Street, Heaton Norris, was jailed for 14 years.

Following the guilty verdict on Monday, Detective Inspector Charlotte Whalley, the Senior Investigating Officer for the case said: "Genevieve was so young when her life was so cruelly taken from her, at the hands of a callous and negligent individual. Genevieve should have gone home to her family that day and it was down to the actions of Kate Roughley that she did not.

"At the heart of our investigation is a family whose lives have been torn apart, siblings who will grow up without their sister, parents who will bear the pain of her loss for the rest of their lives, and loved ones who will never get to watch Gigi grow and flourish.

"From the outset, my team has worked tirelessly with the CPS and the council to ensure we can bring some sense of justice for the family you see with me today, and we will continue to do all that we can to support them.

"I welcome the guilty verdict that has been found today, and I extend my gratitude to the jury who have seen and heard the facts of this case, which I have no doubt will stay with them for a long time. Despite the conviction secured today, and the consequences which will ensue at sentencing, I know this will not bring Gigi home to her family."