Shropshire Star

Nursery nurse to be sentenced for manslaughter of ‘wonderful’ baby

Kate Roughley restrained nine-month-old Genevieve Meehan at a nursery in Stockport.

Genevieve Meehan

A nursery nurse will be sentenced today for causing the death of a baby girl who she strapped face down on to a bean bag for more than 90 minutes.

Kate Roughley, 37, tightly swaddled nine-month-old Genevieve Meehan before she further restrained her with a harness and then inappropriately covered her with a blanket.

Roughley then failed to conduct adequate checks on the distressed infant before she discovered her unresponsive and blue on the afternoon of May 9 2022.

Her colleagues at Tiny Toes nursery in Cheadle Hulme, Stockport, and paramedics tried to revive Genevieve but her condition was irreversible and she was pronounced dead later that day in hospital.

Kate Roughley
Kate Roughley arriving at Manchester Crown Court where she was convicted of the manslaughter of nine-month-old Genevieve Meehan (Richard McCarthy/PA)

On Monday, a jury at Manchester Crown Court unanimously found Roughley guilty of manslaughter by ill-treatment after the prosecution said she “persecuted” the youngster for occupying too much of her time.

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

Roughley put Genevieve in “mortal danger” as she was “banished” to the bean bag for earlier not sleeping long enough for her liking, the court heard.

Following the verdict, Genevieve’s parents said they would “never forgive the callousness” of Roughley for treating their daughter with “cruelty and contempt”.

Mr Meehan said: “She was entrusted with the care of our daughter, yet she put her own convenience and selfish interests above Genevieve’s life.

The tragic youngster
The court heard that the child was left ‘virtually immobilised’ in the baby room (Handout/PA)

“She has shown no remorse for Genevieve’s death. Her expressions of sorrow during the trial were as insincere as they were insulting.

“For many, Genevieve is just a baby that was seen on CCTV or discussed in evidence during this trial. But to us she is our precious and wonderful daughter and she is not to be defined by the manner of her death.

“She was a person. She loved to laugh, to play with her tambourine, to eat spaghetti bolognese and spend time with her big sister.”

Some jurors were in tears at the start of the trial as they first watched nursery CCTV footage of the baby room which captured the tragedy unfolding as Genevieve was left “virtually immobilised” from 1.35pm to 3.12pm.

Prosecutor Peter Wright KC said the youngster’s desperate fight for survival was clear but her crying and the thrashing and writhing of her body were routinely and repeatedly ignored.

Roughley paid “lip service” to any meaningful checks and Genevieve’s wellbeing until it was too late, he said.

Her actions were said to be fuelled by an “illogical and disturbing hostility” towards the youngster which was revealed on further CCTV footage from May 5 and 6.

She was subjected to “rough handling”, said the prosecution, by Roughley, who called her “stress head” and on one occasion told her: “Genevieve go home. Do you have to be so loud and constant? Change the record.”

Roughley sang to her “stop whingeing” and “Genevieve go home. Please, I’m even asking nicely. You are driving me bananas and I’m not wearing pyjamas”.

The defendant’s case was that Genevieve’s death was a “terrible and unavoidable accident” and not the result of any unlawful acts.

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 claimed she placed Genevieve on her side and that she remained in that position, with her face visible throughout, until she made the grim discovery.

Roughley argued she made suitable and appropriate checks on Genevieve and denied that she disliked her.

It is understood a separate health and safety investigation into the now-closed Tiny Toes is ongoing.

Roughley will be sentenced by Mrs Justice Ellenbogen from 2pm.

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