Essex nursery 'wiped out' girl's death

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A toddler's death at an Essex nursery was effectively "wiped from the slate" when it re-registered under a slightly different name, an inquest has heard.

Rhiya Malin, aged two-and-a-half, died when her head became stuck in a playhouse window at Chigwell in 2007.

The following year, Casterbridge Care and Education became Casterbridge Care and Education Nurseries.

Prashat Popat QC, acting for Rhiya's parents, said this effectively removed the death from its records.

It meant parents browsing Ofsted's website would not immediately see information about the toddler's death, he told the hearing in Chelmsford .

Coroner for Essex and Thurrock Caroline Beasley-Murray said: "The court is considering writing to Ofsted and also the Department of Education with regards to this re-registration point."

Cardiac arrest

A jury recorded a narrative verdict following a seven-day inquest.

The jurors ruled: "Rhiya entered into a playhouse unnoticed. Having gained height using a scooter to reach the open gable end of the modified play house her neck became trapped.

A post-mortem examination showed she died after having a "cardiac arrest following compression of the neck", the inquest heard.

Following the ruling, Rhiya's parents, Jay and Shatl Malin, said in a statement: "The loss of Rhiya has affected us in a way that words cannot describe.

"Rhiya's precious life was cut short whilst in their care."

Rhiya was taken from Eton Manor Day Nursery to hospital, where doctors attempted to resuscitate her.

The inquest heard that health and safety officers did not deem the playhouse to be a risk.

But Rebecca Bremner, a health and safety coordinator at the nursery, told the jury she was unsure about the precise responsibilities of the role.

Following Rhiya's death the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided not to bring criminal charges, but in March this year the Malins challenged their decision in the High Court.

While the judges supported the CPS's decision, Lord Justice Toulson said he was "not in the least surprised" the couple were "shocked" none of the nursery staff noticed Rhiya was missing for "up to 25 minutes".

A spokeswoman for the nursery said: "Everyone associated with the nursery is deeply saddened by Rhiya's death three years ago.

"She remains in our thoughts and there are no words to console the loss felt by her family and friends.

"We will reflect with the utmost care on the evidence given and the matters raised during the course of the inquest and will consider any lessons that can be learnt for the future."