Nursery nurse who killed baby by strapping face to bean bag jailed for 14 years

Genevieve Meehan, known as 'Gigi', suffocated to death at Tiny Toes nursery in Cheadle Hulme
Genevieve Meehan, known as 'Gigi', suffocated to death at Tiny Toes nursery in Cheadle Hulme - Greater Manchester Police

A nursery nurse who killed a baby by strapping her face down to a bean bag has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Kate Roughley was said to have an “illogical and disturbing” hostility towards nine-month-old Genevieve Meehan, whom she left to die.

Genevieve, known as “Gigi”, suffocated to death at Tiny Toes nursery in Cheadle Hulme, Stockport, on May 9 2022.

Roughley had previously told the baby to “stop whingeing” and strapped her to the bean bag as punishment for not sleeping for long enough.

At Manchester Crown Court on Wednesday, Roughley was sentenced after a jury previously found her guilty of manslaughter, following a four-week trial.

Kate Roughley has been sentenced to 14 years
Kate Roughley has been sentenced to 14 years - GREATER MANCHESTER POLICE

There were gasps from the public gallery when the 14-year sentence was read out. Roughley, who had sat with her head down for most of the hearing, did not react.

Sentencing, Mrs Justice Ellenbogen told Rougley that Genevieve’s death was “absolutely avoidable”.

Jurors were in tears at the start of the trial as they watched nursery CCTV footage of the baby room, which captured the tragedy unfolding as Genevieve was left “virtually immobilised” for around 90 minutes.

Mrs Ellenbogen said: “As the harrowing CCTV audio and video footage showed, that day you left Genevieve in that position, only carrying the most cursory and infrequent of checks.

“I am certain that every person in this courtroom who watched that footage was willing you to pick her up and remove her from the danger you had placed her, knowing of course that you didn’t.”

Kate Roughley as she was questioned by Greater Manchester Police
Kate Roughley as she was questioned by Greater Manchester Police - GREATER MANCHESTER POLICE

Genevieve, the daughter of John Meehan, a barrister, and Katie Wheeler, a solicitor, died from asphyxiation brought on by a combination of patho-physiological stresses created by a “very unsafe sleeping environment”.

At Wednesday’s hearing, a statement by Genevieve’s big sister, aged six, was read out. She said: “Every day I get punched with sadness. What this lady did was terrible.”

‘Her name will live on’

Genevieve’s father told the 37-year-old nursery nurse that she had shown no remorse and was a “child killer”.

He said: “For you, there will be no redemption and no legacy. You will never be anything but a child killer – but Genevieve’s name will live on.”

Katie Wheeler, Genevieve’s mother, said in her victim impact statement that she feels “dead inside and incapable of living” following the death of her daughter.

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.”

Det Insp Charlotte Whalley, the senior investigating officer said: “This has been a truly harrowing and disturbing investigation.”

She added: “The impact of Roughley’s abhorrent crime is immense and far reaching. Genevieve’s life was robbed, and others must now live with the painful consequences of Roughley’s actions.”

Roughley, of Heaton Norris, Stockport, joined Tiny Toes straight from college at the age of 18 and said she gained most of her knowledge of working with babies and young children from her colleagues.

She said the ratio of staff to children at the nursery “gradually worsened”.

In April and May 2022, the staff-to-children ratio was at various times one to nine, two to 11, two to 13 and one to 16, the court heard.

A separate health and safety investigation is continuing into the now-closed Tiny Toes, formerly owned by Franck Pelle, 59, and his wife, Karen, 66.

Rebecca Gregory, 25, a second Tiny Toes nursery worker, is due in court in August after she was charged with four counts of child neglect, which are not related to Genevieve.