09/09/2014 13:07 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Nursery Owner Cleared Of Neglect After Leaving Toddler In Car For Six Hours


A nursery school owner who left a three-year-old girl strapped inside a car for more than six hours has been cleared of child neglect.

Carol Cort, 67, from Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, was acquitted after her defence lawyer successfully argued that she didn't mean to do it.

A court heard that Mrs Cort had been giving the girl a lift to the Barn Nursery School, in the Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-Water, as a favour for her mother on February 18 2013.

When she arrived at the nursery, she automatically picked up her handbag, locked the car and went to work - leaving the toddler, referred to only as 'E', strapped into her car seat.

Mrs Cort, who had worked in child care for 46 years, went back to her car at 3pm and drove to an after-school club to pick up other children before realising what she had done.

By that time E had been trapped in the car for more than five hours, without food, water or toilet facilities.

As soon as Mrs Cort realised what had happened she rushed to the child's home and tearfully confessed to the girl's mother.

The mum of the abandoned girl told the court: "I just remember Mrs Cort saying she had done something really terrible and dreadful and had let all the children down.

"I think I was in shock - I don't think it registered. Mrs Cort said she had left her in the bus all day and that she had forgotten her."

The prosecution alleged Mrs Cort had been reckless in leaving the child in the locked car and therefore acted willfully.

But a defence expert said Mrs Cort was suffering from 'mild to moderate' depression at the time.

Dismissing the charge, District Judge Joti Bopa Rai said the Crown had not challenged this testimony with its own expert and had not shown that Mrs Cort acted 'willfully'.

After the ruling, Mrs Cort hugged her daughter Alison, who was sitting next to her at Stroud Magistrates' Court.

Since the incident education watchdog Ofsted has closed down the nursery, which Mrs Cort ran with her husband Peter and daughter.