Kate Roughley: Tiny Toes nursery worker in Stockport jailed for 14 years over death of nine-month-old baby

Nursery worker Kate Roughley, 37,  was found guilty of manslaughter after nine-month-old Genevieve Meehan was tightly swaddled and covered with a blanket was put to sleep under her care at Tiny Toes nursery in Cheadle Hulme, Stockport. Nursery worker Kate Roughley, 37,  was found guilty of manslaughter after nine-month-old Genevieve Meehan was tightly swaddled and covered with a blanket was put to sleep under her care at Tiny Toes nursery in Cheadle Hulme, Stockport.
Nursery worker Kate Roughley, 37, was found guilty of manslaughter after nine-month-old Genevieve Meehan was tightly swaddled and covered with a blanket was put to sleep under her care at Tiny Toes nursery in Cheadle Hulme, Stockport. | Greater Manchester Police
Nursery worker Kate Roughley has been jailed for 14 years over the death of nine-month-old Genevieve Meehan

A nursery nurse, who strapped a baby girl face down on a bean bag for more than 90 minutes, has been jailed for 14 years for manslaughter. Kate Roughley tightly swaddled nine-month-old Genevieve Meehan before she further restrained her with a harness and then covered her with a blanket.

The 37-year-old then failed to carry out adequate checks on the distressed child before discovering 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 in hospital later that day.

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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”.

Nursery worker Kate Roughley, 37,  was found guilty of manslaughter after nine-month-old Genevieve Meehan was tightly swaddled and covered with a blanket was put to sleep under her care at Tiny Toes nursery in Cheadle Hulme, Stockport. Nursery worker Kate Roughley, 37,  was found guilty of manslaughter after nine-month-old Genevieve Meehan was tightly swaddled and covered with a blanket was put to sleep under her care at Tiny Toes nursery in Cheadle Hulme, Stockport.
Nursery worker Kate Roughley, 37, was found guilty of manslaughter after nine-month-old Genevieve Meehan was tightly swaddled and covered with a blanket was put to sleep under her care at Tiny Toes nursery in Cheadle Hulme, Stockport. | Greater Manchester Police

Roughley put Genevieve in “mortal danger” because she was “banished” to the bean bag for not sleeping long enough for her liking, the court heard. 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” from 1.35pm to 3.12pm.

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.

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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 into the now-closed Tiny Toes, formerly owned by Franck Pelle, 59, and his wife, Karen, 66.

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