Chigwell toddler death: Wendy house ‘would not have rung alarm bells’

A MODIFIED Wendy house in which a toddler was found hanged “would not have rung alarm bells”, a health and safety advisor told a court on Monday.

Two-year-old Rhiya Malin was found hanged in a Wendy house at her nursery, Eton Manor, in Roding Lane, Chigwell in November 7, 2007.

Despite efforts of medics, she died at Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone half an hour after she was discovered lifeless in the house by nursery staff.

The cause of Rhiya’s death was “cardiac arrest due to compression of the neck.”

The inquest at Chelsmford Cororner’s Courtheard the wooden play house had been modified and two vertical pieces of wood had been added to strengthen the roof.

The jury listened as Jane McGinley, health and safety advisor for Casterbridge Nursery and Education, the company which owns the Chigwell nursery, said she would never have considered the house could trap a child.

“If I was assessing this piece of equipment before Rhiya’s death, I don’t believe I would have considered that would cause entrapment.” She added the modifications “would not have rung alarm bells to me that a child could get stuck”.

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Ms McGinley said Casterbridge had 21 nurseries when she took her post in 2007, and she found on inspection that Eton Manor was not up to scratch with compliance with other health and safety rules, including daily checklists.

When she emailed staff with an updated risk assessment list in October 2007, she did not include instructions for the Wendy house.

But when she was asked by the company’s barrister if a risk assessment of the playhouse would have made a difference to what happened, Ms McGinley replied: “I don’t believe it would have.”

The inquest had heard that a scooter was found inside the house when Rhiya died, but Ms McGinley said she would not have expected a child’s head to become trapped, even if they stood on it to look out of a window and it then moved away.

A verdict is expected to be returned by the jury by the end of this week.

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