Barely five hours after being dropped off for her first day at school, Lydia Bishop lay blue and dead on a play slide. The slide was known to be dangerous by school authorities. The baby girl got entangled in a loop of rope that was left at the top of the slide. It choked her to death after tightening around her neck.
The toddler separated from the main group of other children as they were taking a snack. CCTV video showed Lydia walking to the slide and climbing it. The camera is placed behind the slide and only then shows some movement at the top of the slide which ceases after a few minutes.
Sophee Redhead, a worker at the nursery owned by York College in Leeds, saw Lydia headed to the slides but did nothing to stop her or supervise her on the slide. 20 minutes later, she was asked by a co-worker who noticed that the girl as missing to check on her. It was required by the school that all children playing on the slide be supervised at all times.
On the day of the death, September 2012, the staff had placed across the path leading to the slide a makeshift barrier in an attempt to stop children from going there unsupervised. The nursery regularly used ropes for play yet a risk assessment had identified the potential danger of the rope that was attached to the slide. Rules on the wall of the nursery also stated that the rope should not be there when there was no adult in the vicinity.
Sophee is seen on camera running to towards the slide and then carrying the lifeless girl back. She says that as she approached the slide, she saw Lydia’s head about six inches from the top of the slide and a rope around her neck was clearly visible. A doctor said that if only Lydia had been found a few minutes earlier, her life would have been saved. It is now too late for that.
The parents have moved to court. They are suing the York College for failing to ensure that people who were not in its employment were not exposed to risks to their health and safety. Sophee is sued for failing to take reasonable care of the little girl she additionally faces charges of manslaughter by gross negligence.
The school has been accused of having a mentality that focused on excellence in performance results and neglecting safety rules. Compliance is said to have been on paper but in practice, safety laws were not followed. All parties have denied the charges against them. Lydia’s parents’ only hope for justice now remains in the courtrooms of Leeds
The trial continues.