A childminder has been struck off after she left a three-year-old strapped into a car for more than FIVE HOURS after forgetting about her.
Carol Cort had given the toddler a lift to the nursery she owned as a favour to her mum.
But when the 67-year-old arrived she picked up her handbag, jumped out of the car and locked the door, leaving the girl strapped in her seat – with no food or drink.
She returned to the vehicle at 3pm but only noticed the child still sitting there after she had set off to pick up other children from an after-school club.
The astonishing incident was revealed at a Care Standards Tribunal, where Mrs Cort's childcare registration was cancelled.
The tribunal heard that she 'found the child sitting exactly as she had been when her mother strapped her in'.
Judge Meleri Tudur said: "Initially, she didn't realise what had happened, assuming the child had been placed in the wrong vehicle by a member of staff.
"Only when the child told her that she had been forgotten did she realise that she had been there all day."
The child, known as E, had been away from the nursery the previous week, suffering from chicken pox, so her absence went unnoticed.
Her mother had phoned the nursery at the end of the day to ask after her - but thought a member of staff was 'joking' when he said he hadn't seen her.
Mrs Cort, who had worked in child care for 46 years and was due to retire, immediately drove to the child's home in a 'very distressed state' and confessed all to her mum.
She told the mother: "I've done something awful. I've ruined the nursery and let everybody down. I've ruined it for the children."
Mrs Cort, ravaged by guilt, offered E a free place at the Barn Nursery School in Bourton-on-the-Water.
But the mother later withdrew her daughter from the Barn and reported the matter to the local authority.
The nursery owner, who was on the verge of retirement and handing over the business to her daughter, was immediately suspended by Ofsted.
Judge Tudur said the incident was so grave that Mrs Cort's registration as a childminder had to be cancelled. It was only by 'good luck and chance' that E had not come to serious harm.
Despite Mrs Cort's long and unblemished history as a child carer, the judge concluded: "The incident and the surrounding issues identified are sufficient to merit the cancellation of Mrs Cort's registration."