Last reviewed 24 January 2022

Nursery group Bright Horizons has been fined £800,000 by an Edinburgh court over the death of a ten-month-old boy who choked while he was left unsupervised for several minutes during a mealtime.

Fox Goulding choked on a piece of mango during a mealtime at Bright Horizons Nursery in Corstorphine in July 2019. A nursery nurse sitting next to Fox was given permission to go to the toilet and on her return she believed he was sleeping. Staff then realised the ten-month-old was not breathing and despite calling for an ambulance, slapping him on the back and performing CPR, Fox died in hospital the next day. It was found he had choked on a piece of mango measuring 3cm x 2.2cm x 1.5cm.

The Crown Office said the death could have been preventable if staff had been properly trained and supervised. An investigation found the employer, Bright Horizons Family Solutions Ltd, failed to provide employees at the nursery with suitable instruction and supervision to adequately control the risk of choking during mealtimes.

The investigation found a number of occasions between 21 May 2019 and 9 July 2019 when staff were involved with other tasks and not watching children eat.

Bright Horizons admitted failings under Health and Safety at Work legislation at Edinburgh Sheriff Court and was fined £800,000. The court heard that the Corstorphine nursery has closed and will not reopen while Bright Horizons reviewed its procedures and provided additional training to all Scottish staff.

Alistair Duncan, head of the health and safety investigation unit of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), said:

"This tragic death could have been prevented if staff had been given suitable instruction and supervision in relation to their duties to properly supervise children's mealtimes.

"Childcare providers have an enormous responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children in their care, but in this case, Bright Horizons Family Solutions Ltd failed to live up to that responsibility.

"This should serve as a warning to others of the devastating consequences of such failures."