Staff at nursery school where boy, 3, fell 15ft down an 'unsafe' staircase lied to parents by claiming he was pushedEshan Ahmed fractured his skull after falling 15ft onto concrete from fire escape outside nursery buildingNursery owner Irshad Ahmed allowed steep staircase to be used despite knowing it was unsafe for children, court was told
Owner then lied to three-year-old's parents in an 'utterly cynical' cover-upLittle Hippos Nursery in Birmingham ordered to pay out more than 20,000
16:18 GMT, 24 September 2012
Lied: Irshad Ahmed told the little boy's parents he had been pushed from a fire escape at the Birmingham nursery
The owner of a nursery where a child was left critically ill after falling 15-foot onto concrete from a fire escape lied to his family and said the three-year-old had been pushed.
Eshan Ahmed, now four, had to be put into a coma after suffering a fractured skull when he fell headfirst through a gap in the railings of the staircase at the first-floor nursery in Birmingham.
A court heard the steep staircase was used as an entrance and exit to Little Hippos Multicultural Nursery and Day Care Centre even though the owner knew the fire escape was unsafe, as small children could easily slip through large gaps on either side of the steps.
Birmingham Crown Court was told that
Irshad Ahmed had lied to Eshan's family and to Ofsted about the fall
and created a 'fiction' surrounding it, claiming that the three-year-old
was pushed off the steps during a fire drill at the nursery in Summer
Ahmed – who has
been ordered to pay out over 20,000 – even tried to persuade other
members of staff to back up his story as part of his 'utterly cynical'
cover-up after Eshan plunged headfirst from the top of the fire escape
in March last year.
Recorder Malcolm Morse said it was only thanks to 'pure luck' that a similar accident had not happened before at the nursery.
'It was, in a hackneyed but accurate phrase, an accident waiting to happen,' he said.
'The fact it had not happened before is, in my judgement, pure luck.
'You tried to persuade two members of staff to uphold this fiction but they have always refused to do so,' he added.
The court was told how Ahmed fed his
story to Eshan's distraught mother while she was at the hospital with
her critically ill son.
'Mr Ahmed’s conduct on behalf of the
company was as bad as his conduct exposing children to this risk in the
first place,' the judge said.
Critical: Eshan Ahmed suffered a fractured skull following the fall at the Little Hippos nursery in Summer Lane, Birmingham
Injuries: The swelling on Eshan's head is clear in this photograph
Eshan's mother Sabrina Ahmed, from Aston, Birmingham, said she barely recognised her child when she arrived at his hospital bedside, where he remained for four days before being discharged by doctors.
'You don't expect to see your child in that condition, especially when they are left at a nursery, a place you trust to keep them safe,' she said.
'Unsafe': Wooden panels have now been added to the railings on either side of the fire escape leading from the first-floor nursery
Fined: Little Hippos owner Irshad Ahmed was ordered to pay out more than 20,000 at Birmingham Crown Court
Nusery owner Irshad Ahmed admitted one count of breaching his duty as an employer, as well as failing to notify the authorities – in this case Birmingham City Council – within ten days of the incident in March last year.
The judge fined the nursery 16,000 and ordered it to pay costs of 7,500 and a 15 victim surcharge.
But Eshan's mother said she was disappointed by the verdict, and insisted that Ahmed should not be allowed to care for children.
'Doctors have told us the effects of the fall might not show until Eshan reaches puberty as it could have damaged his pituitary gland at the base of his brain,' she said.
'I am disappointed by the verdict in this case and would say this man and his nursery should not be allowed to care for children.'
Prosecutor Barry Berlin described Ahmed’s attempt to cover up the incident as ‘utterly cynical’.
'What we have here is a cover up of how the incident occurred and that is an obstruction of the authorities,' he said.
'Why was he covering it up Because he recognised the serious nature of the offence.'
Dominic Adamson, defending, apologised to Eshan Ahmed on behalf of the company for the injuries he sustained.
He said the nursery-owner wrongly believed the fire escape was safe to use following both a fire safety inspection and an Ofsted inspection.
On the mend: Sabrina Ahmed with her son Eshan, now four (front), and his brother Junaide, nine