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A nursery assistant has been convicted of neglect over the death of a Chigwell toddler who became caught up in an outdoor playhouse and died from a heart attack.

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Chelmsford Crown Court had been told the convicted assistant, Kayley Murphy, of Greenfields, Loughton, had been on her mobile four times in the half hour before the girl was discovered after staff had taken the rest of the group inside.

She was found guilty of failing to take responsibility for people at work and wept in the dock as the verdict was given on Friday.

Her co-accused, nursery manager Karen Jacobs, 38, of Mill Lane, High Ongar, was cleared of a similar charge.

Sentencing has now been adjourned until February 25 when Murphy will be sentenced along with the owners of the nursery, Casterbridge and Education and Casterbridge Day Nurseries. The companies have admitted a breach of health and safety rules.

The incident happened on November 7, 2007 in Eton Manor Day Nursery, Roding Lane, Chigwell, when little Rhiya Malin, two, of Chigwell, had been playing on a scooter and became trapped inside the playhouse.

Summing up the case judge Karen Walden-Smith said: “There was no evidence a checklist was carried out by Kayley Murphy but there is conflicting evidence whether the checklist was needed to be completed on every occasion.”

Each woman had pleaded not guilty to failing to take reasonable care for people “who may be affected by her acts or omissions at work”.

Neither gave evidence in their defence but Murphy had claimed she could supervise while on the phone.

Prosecutor Oliver Campbell had told the court: “A three wheel scooter was found and it is likely she [Rhiya] stood on it, it moved and she was trapped.”

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