Nursery worker tells court she does not feel her 'actions caused' the death of baby

A nursery worker has told a jury she felt responsible for the death of a baby girl in her care who she put to sleep on a beanbag, but did not believe her actions were the cause.

Kate Roughley, 37, found nine-month-old Genevieve Meehan unresponsive and blue on the afternoon of 9 May 2022 at the Tiny Toes Nursery in Cheadle Hulme, Stockport.

The prosecution allege she had placed Genevieve on her front, tightly swaddled and strapped to a beanbag for more than 90 minutes as the youngster was left "virtually immobilised" and that her cries and distress were "simply ignored".

Roughley, from Heaton Norris, Stockport, denies manslaughter and an alternative count of child cruelty.

Giving evidence at Manchester Crown Court, Roughley said she put Genevieve on her side on the beanbag and that she had "no cause for concern" up to the point when she discovered the youngster was not breathing.

Her barrister Sarah Elliott KC said: "You have said that on May 9 you were worried that you would get the blame for Genevieve's death?"

Roughley said: "That's correct, yes."

Miss Elliott said: "What responsibility do you feel in relation to what happened?"

The defendant replied: "I do feel responsible for Genevieve's death given she was in my care that day. However, I don't feel my actions were the cause of the death."

Roughley said "there is not a day that goes by when I don't think about it [what happened on 9 May].

"It's always my first thought in the day, constantly thinking what Genevieve would be doing, what milestones she would be reaching and how her development would grow.

"My thoughts are are always with the family and what they have been through."

Along with jurors, Roughley watched CCTV footage of the baby room from 9 May as she answered questions from her barrister.

She said she had decided to place Genevieve in a beanbag rather than a cot because she had slept better there the week before.

Roughley was seen to crawl to the beanbag and lean over Genevieve more than 30 minutes after she had placed her there.

She said Genevieve was disturbed when she adjusted her blanket as her head started to move and she began to cry.

But Roughley said she had not noticed anything of concern.

Minutes later, Genevieve is seen to move her head up and lift her legs, the footage showed.

Asked by the barrister what she had made of that, Roughley said: "She did tend to toss and turn her head when she was going to sleep.

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"She enjoyed kicking her legs when she went to sleep. She was constantly kicking her legs. When she was sat in the high chair waiting for her lunch or tea she would be excited and would kick her legs."

Roughley added she thought the child was just "getting herself back to sleep".

The defendant agreed that "grunting" could be heard later from the area of the beanbag but said: "She also made that noise in the morning and the week prior. When she had made it in the morning, she went back to sleep soon after."

More than an hour after she first put Genevieve to sleep she carried out a physical check, the court was told, and said she saw that Genevieve was breathing.

At this point, the defendant said she thought Genevieve was asleep.

Roughley said Genevieve was still laying in the same position when she made a routine check at 3.12pm.

"The first thing that I noticed was around her lips it was a little bit blue."

She also noticed the toddler was not breathing.

"I panicked and I moved her to double-check she was breathing. I just flipped her over in a panic.

"At that point she needed help, so I ran out to get a senior member of management," Roughley said, adding she was in "shock" and "I knew I needed someone to help as quick as possible".

The trial continues on Thursday.