Wednesday 26 October 2016

Girl (5) went 'from a happy child to a cranky child' and experienced 'terror' when moved at creche featured on RTE expose

Saurya Cherfi

Published 07/10/2015 | 11:54

Giraffe Childcare in Stepaside which was named in the Primetime investigation
Giraffe Childcare in Stepaside which was named in the Primetime investigation

A FIVE-YEAR-OLD girl, who suffered stress and psychological abuse when she attended a crèche which figured in an RTÉ expose about the mistreatment of children, has been awarded €17,500 compensation in the Circuit Civil Court.

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Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke heard the settlement offer had been made by Giraffe ChildCare without admission of liability.

Barrister Michael Connellan told the court that Lauren McConnell had gone from a happy child to a cranky one after she was moved to a different room at Giraffe Childcare, Belarmine Copse, Stepaside, Enniskerry Road, Co Dublin.

Lauren had left the crèche after her parents, Amanda and Brendan McConnell, had viewed the RTÉ Prime Time Investigates programme, which exposed the treatment of children in a number of crèches.

The McConnells had attended at RTE studios prior to the airing of the programme and had been shown footage which had allegedly included their daughter’s minder behaving in a “barbaric” manner towards children. The footage did not include images of their daughter. 

The McConnells, of Belarmine Close, Stepaside, Dublin, claimed in documents opened to the court that they had been distressed when watching the TV programme. 

Mr Connellan said Lauren had first attended the crèche when she was 11-months-old.  Her behaviour had changed when she was moved to the ‘big room’ seven months later.

The court heard she attended the crèche on a daily basis and her parents claimed she had suffered “severe emotional upset, stress and terror” during the eight weeks she spent in that room, from June to September 2012.

Judge Groarke was told Lauren had been reluctant to get into her parents’ car before being dropped at the crèche, crying uncontrollably and refusing to be separated from them.

The court heard in her claim that Lauren was upset and tearful when her father collected her in the evening.  Her sleep and diet had been disturbed.

Lauren’s parents claimed they had several times raised their concern on their daughter’s behaviour with the relevant minder at the crèche and with management staff and had allegedly been told that it was a natural reaction to change.

Her behaviour had started to improve after her parents requested she be moved to a different room in September 2012.

Judge Groarke heard that a psychologist’s report established Lauren had suffered an acute reaction to stress following her transfer to the ‘big room,’ which was a harsh and abusive environment.

Lauren, through her mother Amanda, sued Giraffe Childcare, with a registered office at Adamstown Avenue, Castlegate, Adamstown, Lucan, Co Dublin.  Her parents have also sued the crèche in separate proceedings. 

Mr Connellan said the crèche had made a €17,500 settlement offer, which Judge Groarke approved.

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