A mother wept as she recalled her frantic search for her two-year-old daughter - before discovering she had plunged to her death from a block of flats in Sheffield.
Ola Al Fatle broke down while giving evidence at the trial of buildings caretaker Robert Warner, who is accused of little Ryaheen Banimuslem’s manslaughter by gross negligence.
She described how she and her two children were playing on the fourth floor communal garden at the North Bank apartments on Willey Street, in the city centre, when she realised she could not see Ryaheen.
Mrs Fatle, speaking through an Arabic interpreter, said: “I was looking for her and I asked my friends to sit with my child.
“I was looking for her but I didn’t see her. I didn’t expect her to have fallen down.
“I wondered why? Where?”
She said other women were looking down from a narrow walkway, leading off the garden, when they saw Ryaheen. The toddler had been out of her sight for only a ‘very short time’, she said.
Ryaheen had plunged to the ground through a gap in the walkway barrier, and died in Sheffield Children’s Hospital on June 27, 2012.
The cause of death was head and spinal injuries.
The court heard Warner, 45, of Shirehall Crescent, Shiregreen, had deliberately removed a glass panel from the protective barrier on the walkway where Ryaheen fell.
He used it to replace another, smashed, glass panel on a similar barrier in a more ‘prominent’ position in the garden area.
But the maintenance worker, a sub-contractor employed by flats management company Arim, failed to replace the first panel, prevent access to the walkway or warn residents about the hazard.
Bryan Cox QC, prosecuting, said: “This accident was caused by the defendant’s negligent conduct.
“He created that very dangerous state of affairs, and he did nothing to warn of the obvious danger.”
The court heard Warner, who denies manslaughter by gross negligence, submitted an invoice to Arim for the purchase of two glass panels that he never made.
Mr Cox told jurors: “He stood to gain financially as you will see. He submitted an invoice to Arim on the basis he had incurred expenditure purchasing the glass panel. The fact is he did not.”
Residents of the flats had reported seeing a panel missing from the barrier several weeks before Ryaheen’s death.
Both Ms Fatle and Ryaheen’s father Hikmat, who came to Sheffield from Iraq in March 2011 so Mr Banimuslem could study for a PhD at Sheffield Hallam University, also said they had seen panels missing previously and were concerned.
On one occasion they moved a bench in front of a gap to cover it.
The trial continues.