A COLLEGE has been fined £175,000 following the horrific death of a three-year-old girl as she played at the campus nursery.
York College was also ordered to pay £45,000 costs after being found guilty of “systematic” health and safety breaches that led to the death of toddler Lydia Bishop.
She became entangled by the neck in a rope left on a slide in the playground at the Sim Balk Lane site in September 2012 - her first day at the nursery.
Prosecutors said she had been ''left entirely to her own devices for what was to be a prolonged period'' and 20 minutes passed before staff went to find out where she was and what she was doing.
She was blue and not breathing when found and all efforts to revive her by nursery staff, paramedics and doctors at York Hospital failed.
Judge Mr Justice Coulson said nothing could provide recompense for Lydia’s death, adding: “A child is priceless, so the loss of a child is an irredeemable loss.”
The college was found guilty after a three-week trial at Leeds Crown Court. The same jury cleared nursery worker Sophee Redhead, 25, of Lydia's manslaughter and safety breaches.
Following the judgment college principal Alison Birkinshaw said: “Nothing can reduce the pain felt by Lydia’s family and we are truly sorry for what has happened. Lydia and her family will be forever in our thoughts.
"We remain committed to learning from these tragic events and took the difficult decision to close the nursery permanently immediately after the tragedy.”
Lydia’s parents Rebecca Dick and Brad Bishop attended each day of the trial and said they had expected a more substantial penalty for the college.
“We have re-lived those last moments of Lydia’s life in grave detail and heard evidence over and over surrounding the events of that day,” they said in a statement.
“For the last 17 months we felt terribly let down that throughout the process, no one had accepted any responsibility for what happened to Lydia, which has made it even harder to deal with.
“It is obvious that fatal mistakes were made, both on that day and in the weeks and months leading up to it, and that Lydia was not properly cared for.”
They added: “We are disappointed that it is not until the jury reached their verdict that the college have finally admitted their failing and we acknowledge that they have finally apologised.”