Nursery group Bright Horizons was previously fined £800,000 over the death of ten-month-old Fox Goulding, who had been left unsupervised for several minutes on July 9, 2019.
A member of staff believed Fox was asleep after eating dinner at Bright Horizons Corstorphine Nursery in Edinburgh and an ambulance was called when it emerged he was not breathing.
In January, the nursery group admitted failings under Health and Safety at Work legislation at Edinburgh Sheriff Court and was fined £800,000.
Bright Horizons Family Solutions pled guilty to failing to provide suitable instruction and supervision to adequately control the risk of choking during mealtimes. The Corstorphine nursery has since closed permanently.
Nursery manager Miranda Anderson, 48, was charged over Fox’s death and has now been convicted and fined under health and safety laws. An investigation found the nursery failed to provide employees with suitable instruction and supervision to adequately control the risk of choking during mealtimes.
It also found that between May 21, 2019 and July 9, 2019, staff were involved with other tasks and not supervising children eat.
The court heard Fox was rushed to hospital, but died the following day despite emergency care. Prosecutor Siobhan Ramage played several CCTV clips from the nursery showing children being left unsupervised during meal time.
In one, a child climbed down from their chair and crawled to the other side of the room before a staff member noticed. Catherine Agnew – head of children’s services at watchdog body the Care Inspectorate – told the court youngsters “should be supervised and supported during meal times”.
Referring to Scotland-wide advice given to childcare facilities, Ms Agnew said: “The nursery manager is responsible for ensuring these policies are followed within a nursery.”
The court heard a specialist ‘improvement’ team had been installed in the nursery due to staffing shortages.
Eilidh Sayers, who was part of the team, said there was “no real structure to meal times”. During her evidence, she said: “We were sent in February 2019 and left in May 2019.
“Staff would get up and walk away from the kids at the table, which is not safe. It is always good practice for staff to sit with the kids while they are eating.”
Fox was found by a staff member who returned from the toilet and thought he was asleep. He was found not to be breathing and staff attempted to dislodge the blockage in his airway by slapping him on the back. They also performed CPR.
Prosecutors said his death could have been preventable if staff had been properly trained and supervised. An investigation found Bright Horizons Family Solutions Ltd failed to adequately control the risk of choking during meal times.
The Goulding family’s lawyer Glen Millar, a partner with Thompsons Solicitors, said: “The family are grateful for the efforts of the Crown, but a further guilty verdict in this case gives them no satisfaction and they remain numb and disbelieving that this could ever have happened to their beloved son.
“There is nothing that the sheriff could do in sentencing that would in any way reflect the pain they feel or adequately address the senseless loss of Fox.”