Tuesday 17 October 2017

Childminder 'appeared to be biting face of 18-month-old', court told

Stock picture
Stock picture

Anne Lucey

A childminder seemed to be “biting” the face of an 18-month old child when a postwoman doing rounds called in a rural area outside Killarney, a court was told .

There were "terrible screams” from the hallway of the house, the court heard.

The childminder a  38-year-old woman appeared before Killarney District Court on Tuesday where she pleaded guilty under Section 246  (1) and (2) of the Children Act, 2001 that she wilfully assaulted a child in her care in a manner likely to cause injury to the child’s health or seriously affect its well being.

The woman had been looking after the child with over a year, the court was told.

The child had suffered bruising which had cleared up in a matter of weeks, and had no facial wounds. This was a once-off incident and there were no previous convictions, the court also heard.

The accused would plead guilty on summary disposal, the solicitor said. 

Judge James O’Connor ordered the press not to publish matters which identified the child.

Outlining the case so the judge could decide on jurisdiction, Sgt Kieran O’Connell said the accused  was a childminder; she was also a friend of the mother and had been minding the child for more than a year.

At 12 noon on May 12 last,  “a post lady doing her rounds” called to the house and on approaching the door she heard “terrible screams “ from the hall, the sergeant said.

The post lady looked through a glass panel and observed the childminder with the child in her arms pinned against the wall.

“She had her face up against the child’s face as if she was biting the child’s face,” the Sergeant said.

The post woman  banged on the door and she pounded it and the minder came to the door with the child in her arms.  The child was “hysterical” and the minder told  the postwoman she couldn’t get the child to stop crying.

The postwoman rang the child’s mother who left work and came home and took the child to the doctor.

The DPP had recommended summary disposal, Sgt O’Connell also said. Judge James O’Connor asked if the incident  had been a ”a once-off”

“As far as the State knows,” the sergeant said.

The judge accepted jurisdiction.

Medical reports handed into court found the child’s face bruised, and there were no facial bite marks. The bruising healed in two to three weeks, Sergeant O’Connell told the judge.

Solicitor Padraig O’Connell  said the woman had children of her own and there were no issues with her care of them. Her own children were at home on the date and she was minding the child in its own home. There was full admission and co-operation and full apology.

“The crying of the child just got inside her head and she can’t explain what happened. She just lost it. It was a once-off,” Mr O’Connell said.

The offered her profound apology and she is in a state of turmoil since and has been getting professional counselling.

“Her family life has come to a halt,” the solicitor said.

Judge O’Connor ordered €5,000 be lodged in court for the benefit of the child, to be invested until it reached 18 years, saying he was treating the matter on the same principle as if the child was injured in a road traffic accident.

A further €1,000 is to be paid into court for the benefit of the mother of the child, by order of the judge. He adjourned the matter remanding the childminder on continuing bail to December 5 and granted free legal aid.

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