The mother of a toddler who died after choking on a jelly cube at a Wimbledon nursery wept as the jury found the nursery guilty of 'gross failure' over the little girl’s death today.
Tiya Chauhan’s mother, Dipa, was emotional as the jury’s verdict found 22-month-old Tiya died of 'an accident contributed to by neglect'.
An investigation was launched after the toddler was found not breathing on the floor of the Dicky Birds Nursery in Dundonald Road, Wimbledon.
Paramedics removed a jelly-like substance from the youngster’s throat before rushing her to St George’s Hospital in Tooting where she died the next day, coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox heard at an inquest into her death.
After a day of deliberations, the jury foreman said today: "The jury concludes that there was a gross failure on the part of the nursery to provide appropriate care to Tiya.
"Inadequate communication between all staff led to a gross failure of supervision of Tiya, which was a significant contributing factor to her death," the foreman said.
Coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox personally spoke with Tiya's distraught parents, of Graham Road, Wimbledon, following the hearing, praising their resolve and bravery.
Outside court, father Chetan Chauhan said he was shocked the Dicky Birds nursery was still running.
"They should not be operating," he said.
"It angers me they are still operating.
"Ofsted have the power to revoke their licence."
Mr Chauhan described his daughter as a happy child, bubbly and full of life.
He said: "She had just started to create a personality of her own.
"The coroner has been fearless in her inquest."
Mr and Mrs Chauhan leaving court.
Tiya, aged 22 months, was found to have died accidentally, contributed to by gross neglect.
In a statement, the family rued the fact the nursery continue to blame the jelly.
It said: "Nothing we can say or do can bring back our beautiful daughter Tiya nor relieve the pain of not seeing our little bundle of joy grow up with our family.
"All our hopes and dreams for Tiya have been taken from us.
"This hearing, although hard to bear, has helped us and we are grateful to the coroner for conducting a thorough inquest.
"This has provided us with an opportunity to better understand the circumstances in which Tiya died.
"We are extremely disappointed that it has taken an inquest hearing two years after Tiya's death to identify for the first time the basic failures of the Dicky Birds Nursery to supervise very young children and to operate a free-flow system without assessing the obvious risks of babies being left unattended with access to dangerous items such as raw jelly.
"The nursery has continued to deny any responsibility or accountability for Tiya's death in the face of overwhelming evidence and even to this day continue to blame the jelly.
"The Nursery has shown no compassion or remorse and the manner in which the Dicky Birds Nursery has conducted itself has been regrettable and has added considerably to our pain.
"Our aim has always been to establish the truth of how Tiya died so that other nurseries and governing bodies may learn by the mistakes made here.
"We believe the inquest has gone some way to achieving that."
The inquest opened on Monday, July 7, at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
After a short break, the inquest resumed on Wednesday, September 3 and concluded today.
The inquest heard staff at the nursery initially blamed 'an unknown medical condition' for her death.
Jurors were told by the time police had arrived at the nursery the scene 'had been cleaned and some things moved'.
The jelly cubes in question had also been lost or thrown away, 'by a person or persons unknown', the coroner said.
The inquest heard claims the nursery's operations manager Derek Hayes 'deliberately minimised' the incident in his formal report to Ofsted.
He also admitted picking out a member of staff, Natasha Collins, at random and suspending her following the death.
Mr Hayes said he had done so 'because she had cold sores' but Miss Collins 'thought it was something to do with Tiya's death'.
Concluding her summing up yesterday, Dr Wilcox told the jury: "He stated there was no logic to this suspension."
But Mr Hayes specifically denied there had been a management cover-up of this incident, Dr Wilcox added.
The coroner recalled how the toddler's parents were first told that 'an unknown medical condition had not been ruled out as the cause of Tiya's death'.
On hearing this, grieving father Chetan Chauhan threw his head back in anguish as he sat beside his wife, Dipa.
The coroner continued: "The death was subsequently referred to the police.
"By the time the detective took photographs, the nursery had been cleaned and something moved.
"The jelly had been disposed of by a person and persons unknown, possibly by the cleaners."
Ofsted have since allowed the nursery in Dundonald Road, Wimbledon, to reopen.
"Jelly has been completely excluded and food-play stopped.
''Free-flow' [play] has been suspended" the coroner concluded.
Dicky Birds Nursery in Wimbledon.
The tragedy occurred at the nursery at around 9.40am on August 23, 2012, when the jelly was being used in a sensory game.
London Ambulance crew removed a piece of 'jelly-like substance' from Tiya's airway, the inquest was told.
Tiya was taken by ambulance to St George's Hospital but died later the same day.
Dicky Birds Nurseries is a family-owned business with other nurseries in Wimbledon, Raynes Park, New Malden and Surbiton.
The cause of death was asphyxiation caused by a foreign body.