Chigwell girl found hanging in nursery playhouse was ‘not supervised’, court told

Rhiya Malin, two, died after her head became lodged in a wooden playhouse

Rhiya Malin, two, died after her head became lodged in a wooden playhouse - Credit: Archant

Two women who worked at a Chigwell day nursery where a two-year-old girl was found hanging in the roof of a wooden playhouse, have pleaded not guilty to failing to take reasonable care of those they were responsible for.

Nursery manager Karen Jacobs, 38, of Mill Lane, High Ongar, and nursery assistant Kayley Murphy, of Greenfields, Loughton, are charged with failing to take reasonable care for people “who may be affected by her acts or omissions at work”.

The court has been told that prior to the incident on November 7, 2007 in which Rhiya Malin, of Chigwell died at the Eton Manor Day Nursery, Roding Lane, Chigwell, both women had been talking briefly on mobile phones.

The quota of staff was reduced when one had to go inside and assist another child “leaving three outside supervising”, prosecutor Oliver Campbell told Chelmsford Crown Court.

He added: “At 10.55am they decided to take the children into class and as they got back noticed Rhiya was missing. They found her hanging by the neck with her head trapped.

“Attempts were made to resuscitate her unsuccessfully and she was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead.”

A three wheel scooter was found in the playhouse and Mr Campbell said it was likely Rhiya had stood on it and it had moved, trapping her.

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He continued: “Rhiya was left unseen for many minutes and not observed going into the playhouse and not actually supervised.”

Showing the jury a video of the scene, Mr Campbell highlighted how struts had been added to strengthen the roof part of the playhouse and said: “Expert evidence says they were more likely to make it less safe.”

Rhiya died as a result of compression of blood vessels, causing cardiac arrest and not asphyxia.

The hearing continues.